Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Life . . . Sideways

While driving around today, I found myself stopped at a traffic light with a motor cycle in front of me. Oddly, my first question wasn't, "Why in the world is someone riding in 20 degree weather?" No, that question came later. No, my first observation was the bumper sticker on the back of the motorcycle. In bold, black letters upon a yellow background was the word "LIFE."

If the sticker's intent was to communicate a message, I wasn't sure what it was. Is this a part of the "Life is good" campaign? Is he proclaiming a commitment to a pro-life way of living? Does he really, really like the Milton-Bradley board game? I don't know. I just know that, for this daredevil cold-defying motorcycle rider, "Life" is something really important. Important enough to put on a bumper sticker.

But the other odd thing I noticed is the way the sticker was placed. You see, motorcycles, being the size they are, don't have bumpers. So he'd put this sticker on the back fender, and to make it fit, he'd had to turn it sideways. The words ran up rather than across. He's celebrating life...sideways.

Well, that's the only sort of life there is, isn't there? No matter how much we dream, plan, envision and hope for the "perfect life," no one has one. There are disappointments, hurts, blemishes, sins and wrong turns in everyone's life. Everyone. Even those people you envy who seem to have achieved perfection...well, they're either hiding something or they're dead and living in glory. This world is broken, and for all of us, there are times when life gets...sideways.

If you were to study the lament psalms, those prayers that are meant for when life gets broken, when life runs sideways. And there are more of them in the psalms than songs of praise. Those psalms, we remembered, give us language to pray when we don't know what to pray. They give us words to sing when we can't sing. And those psalms remind us that it's the broken times that allow us to appreciate the good times. It's the darkness that helps us celebrate the dawn. The psalmists always, always, always gave thanks even in the midst of brokenness because it's there, more than any other time, when God's power is clearly seen.

Life...sideways. It's not a bad place to be. It's not a place we would want to stay, but if we're alert, if we are able to pray and praise God even when life is sideways, then we'll find our relationship with God deeper than before, deeper than it would be otherwise. If your life is sideways right now, I want to encourage you: be like my motorcycle-riding friend. Defy the winter, step out into the bad weather, and see what God will do. Praise God even when life is sideways, and you will praise God even more when life is right side up because you will know what God can do.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Why Come To Church More Often

written by: http://sharonwylie.com/

Why should you come to church more often? Because you want to.

I hear this from my congregants all the time. That it’s hard to come on Sunday mornings–people want to sleep in, they have lots to do–but when they do, they’re glad. “I need to come more often,” I hear again and again.

One of our regular Sunday morning volunteers told me she volunteers to make herself come. That’s as good a reason to volunteer as any I’ve heard.

I am not baffled by this thinking at all. I know as well as anyone that it’s hard to do things that are optional, and coming to church is optional. Our lives are filled with the things we have to do. Culturally, church used to be on the “have to” list, but that’s changed in recent decades,

Why is it so hard? For one thing, worship services start on time, not on demand. Arts attendance has also been declining, and fewer people are going to the movies as well. We are increasingly accustomed to being able to watch what we want when we want it, and dragging ourselves out of the house to get somewhere for something that starts at a specific time takes effort.

And let’s face it, most of us struggle to do the things that are good for us. Oh yes, attending church is good for you! Google “mental health church attendance” if you don’t believe me. Attending church is up there with eating more fruits and vegetables on the list of “things that are good for me but I struggle with anyway.”

But there’s more to it than “it’s hard to get myself to church.” Church attendance used to be a signifier of conformity and commitment to cultural norms. Now, at least in the liberal religious tradition, it’s an expression of counterculture.

The world around us is increasingly online; church requires presence and face-to-face interaction.
The world around us privileges the needs of the individual; church privileges the needs of the community.

The world around us requires little commitment from us; at church we are often asked to volunteer time, give money, and make commitments to continue to volunteer time and give money.
The world around us allows us to isolate ourselves from people of different generations, with different values and beliefs; church requires us to get to know these people and even DO things with them!

The world around us values materialism, consumption, and entertainment; church challenges us to commit to values that call us outside ourselves.

That last point gets to one of the cruxes of attendance: church doesn’t even always feel good. One of my congregants categorizes services as either candy or medicine.  ”Candy” are those services we leave feeling joyful and full of love for the world and for each other. “Medicine” are those services where we’ve been challenged to make change in our lives and in the world. Like choosing to watch a somber documentary film instead of the latest Marvel movie, coming to church is sometimes the no-fun option. But taking our medicine is “good for us,” my congregant would say, and I agree with him.

I’m sure there’s more. Attending church is so countercultural that many of us are afraid to mention it to friends. Does anything more powerfully say “weirdo” these days than “I went to church on Sunday?” (My colleague Jason Shelton calls us “dorks,” which he applies specifically to Unitarian Universalists and not just churchgoers in general. I can live with that.)

So if you’re struggling to get to church regularly, know that there are strong cultural forces that make it difficult. And maybe knowing that will help you actually get there more often. You may be glad you did.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bible Study Cancelled Nov 19, 2014

Due to inclement weather, bible study tonight is cancelled. If you must drive, please be safe.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Game Night November 7th

You are invited to join us for game night for a great time of fellowship and fun!

When: November 7, 2014

Time: 7:00 PM

Where: 3864 Benjamin Drive NE, Grand Rapids MI

Water will be provided. Feel free to bring snacks and/or your own non-alcoholic beverage.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How Do You Approach Worship?

How do you approach worship? Is it just something you feel you have to do, an obligation to be met? Is it just a place where you talk with some friends and put in your time for God? Is it a joyful thing, or a mere ritual to go through? How do you approach worship? It's an important and vital question because the way we approach the weekly time of worship will determine what we get out of it.

In survey after survey, the thing people say they want most from the time of worship is to "connect with God." And in those same surveys, most of the people say the one thing they don't get out of worship is that sense of being in God's presence. Yes, some of the fault rests on we pastors, who too often simply plug in the same elements every week with little regard to any sense of unity or purpose in the service. But sometimes it's also because we come expecting so little from our worship. We get out of it what we put in it.

Joshua Harris, in his book "Stop Dating the Church," suggests several things we can do during the time of worship to get the most out of it, to increase our openness to what God wants to do in and through that time. The first thing is to remember why we gather. It's not for entertainment or to be part of a social club. We gather to worship God, and so ultimately it doesn't matter if we like the songs or the style or the sermon or even the people who sit around us. The purpose of worship isn't to make us happy. The purpose of worship is to lift up the name of Jesus and to remember that we are his people. Worship should shape us for the week to come, not just leave us with a warm, fuzzy feeling. In fact, if worship is really effective...we might just leave feeling uncomfortable because we've been in God's presence.

There are, in most worship services, two main opportunities to participate in worship. One is in singing. Many a pastor will tell you that they probably have had more complaints about music than anything else because we tend to focus on whether or not we know the song or we like the song. But the song isn't the point. God is. We sing to God. The words we use should glorify God, and beyond that, in a really well-thought-out worship service, they should contribute to the overall theme of the day. If we can focus on the one we worship rather than our own personal preferences, music and singing becomes a way to express praise and gratefulness to God.

The other way we participate is during the sermon. No, not necessarily in "talking back" (though if the preacher asks a question, he or she is probably expecting an answer!), but in listening. And, again, not to the preacher but to what God is saying through the preacher. The sermon is, at its best, God's word applied to this particular congregation. If the preacher has worked hard all week to prayerfully bring the Scripture to the congregation, is it asking too much for the congregation to listen and seek what God is saying to them? We will be held accountable for what we have heard regardless of whether it moved us emotionally or not. That's kind of a scary thought!

For some people, it's helpful to take notes, although that's not helpful for me, but I know it is for others. The main thing is to listen for what God is saying and seek to apply it to your life in some concrete way during the week.

How we approach worship shapes our lives and our week. Worship is the central act of the Christian, and it shapes our hearts and lives. How will you approach worship this weekend?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Whatever This Day May Bring


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Prepare For Worship

Several years ago, I read a book by Karen Mains about making Sunday the best day of the week, and she suggested that part of our problem with worship is that we don't come prepared. I remember her comparing the Christian attitude of "hurry up, let's go and get there at the last minute...if we don't have anything else planned today" to the Jewish mindset that the day of worship is the high point of the week. For the Jew, she said, Sabbath is the center. Three days before are used for preparation and three days after are used for reflection. Our calendars are not set up that way and our brains aren't wired that way. But what if they were? What if we started seeing Sunday as the high point, the center, of our week?

Recently, I ran across another book by Joshua Harris called "Stop Dating the Church," and at the end of the book, he makes the same argument: Sunday should be much more than it is. And he suggests the reason worship isn't the center is because we fail to prepare ourselves for us, to participate fully in it and to deeply reflect upon it. We hurry in and hurry out, sometimes even leaving before the last hymn or song is over so we can get to the next thing. Worship becomes just something we check off our "to do" list.

Preparation, Harris says, begins with what we do on Saturday night. Getting adequate rest, spending some time reflecting on the Scriptures, spending some time in prayer can all go a long way toward focusing our heart and mind on what is to come. Pray for the service. Pray for the pastors (please!) and the music leader. Pray for our Sunday School teachers. Pray that the electronics functions correctly! Harris points out that we don't go into a sport without "warming up." Why do we think we should go into something as meaningful as worship without being prepared?

One other thing he suggests that I hadn't given much thought to is this: what are we filling our minds with the night before? Watching a movie, surfing the Internet, partying late—do these things prepare us for hearing the word of God? Each and every week, Jesus has something to say to us in worship—are we ready to hear it? Are we prepared to hear it?

This weekend, as you prepare for worship, what will you do to make sure you have a great day in worship?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Are We Serving Christ or Our Own Set of Rules?

"It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles" (Matthew 15:11).

We get so hung up on externals, just like the Pharisees. We're often hard on the Pharisees when we read the Gospels, but the truth is, we're very much like them. We all have our lists of what is acceptable and unacceptable—what we should eat, what we should drink, how to dress for worship, what kind of music is acceptable and approved for worship, what kinds of friends we should have and who we should hang around with...we get so wrapped up in all these things that we miss what Jesus really calls us to. Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus call us to judge others by externals. Jesus is concerned with something deeper: the heart.

Take, for example, the issue of food. That was one of the Pharisees' main concerns, and in this passage in Matthew 15, Jesus is taking them head on about that. The Pharisees were concerned about eating the right sorts of things, the allowed sorts of things and doing it in such a way that they weren't "defiled." But Jesus tells them that the real issue isn't what goes into the mouth, but what comes out of it. When the disciples question him, he says (and I'm paraphrasing here), "What you eat doesn't stay in you long. It goes in and comes back out. The stuff in the stomach isn't so important as the stuff in the heart. It's out of the heart that evil intentions, false witness, slander, even murder and adultery, come. Pay more attention to the condition of your heart than what's on the dinner plate."

We still practice the error of the Pharisees. We judge others by the externals, good and bad, whether they follow our lists of rules or not, and have little interest in their heart. Maybe the place to start in changing that is to look at our own heart and see what condition it is in. Are we serving Christ or our own set of rules?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Open Our Eyes and Transform Us

"These who have turned the world upside down have come here too" (Acts 17:6).

Near Freeport, Maine is the headquarters of the DeLorme Map Company.  In the lobby there is a huge globe completely made up of satellite images of the entire earth.  They call the globe "Eartha", which sort of sounds like a feminine goddess to me!  It is the largest rotating and revolving globe in the world, measuring 42 feet in diameter and comprised of 140 gigabytes of information.  

I wonder about something and have yet to find the answer. Globes and maps depict the northern hemisphere as up and the southern hemisphere as down. Is this only the case from our conventional perspective or is there an objective reason this is so? Is there an up and down out in space?

I think Acts 17.6 is a powerful expression of the world's perspective on the mighty impact the early church had on the earth.  It is specifically referring to the ministry of the Apostle Paul and those who traveled with him as they proclaimed the message of Christ in Thessalonica.  Apparently their reputation had preceded them.  Their message was so absolutely transforming that it was said to "have turned the world upside down."

Indeed, wherever the true message of Jesus goes, it has a transforming impact.  This impact will be on individuals, families, communities and entire cultures.  It's important to realize that the transformation is upside down from the world's perspective but right side up according to God's created design!  That's why it is so important that we, as followers of Christ, spend time reading, studying, memorizing and obeying God's owner's manual, the Bible.

This morning I recall a moment when a fellow believer shared with me a spiritual concept based on Romans 12:2.  "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  That was many years ago. The process of breaking conformity to the world and transforming into spiritual conformity to Christ continues in my life through the renewing of my mind.  There have been some setbacks along the way but God continues the process and I am assured that God will carry it on to completion until the day He appears.

"Lord, open our eyes to just how upside down the world is and transform us in Christ to being right side up according to your created design.  Amen."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Encourage One Another Daily

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness"  (Hebrews 3:13).

I want to consider the word "hardened" in the text.  This translates the Greek word "skleruno" which is the very same word from which we get the word sclerosis in English.  You may be most familiar with this word in the description of a disease called arteriosclerosis, which is the hardening and thickening of the arteries.  

If you're over 40 you've probably had your cholesterol checked.  High cholesterol contributes to the build up of gunk in the blood vessels and that's not good.  This is a inherited health issue I struggle with. No amount of proper diet lowers the numbers thus, it has to be maintained through prescriptions.

Taking care of your physical health is important but it's even more important to take care of your spiritual health.  The warning in the daily text is every bit as needed today.  We all know people that have become hardened by sin's deceitfulness.  Satan is a crafty, creative, and persistent foe.  His specific weapons will change, but his strategy and goal are always the same.  He wants to harden our hearts.

Today, I urge you to look for someone to encourage. It seems to me from reading the text the act of encouraging is beneficial both to the encourager as well as the one being encouraged.  Be vigilant in the fight against spiritual arteriosclerosis caused by the cholesterol of sin!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Everything We Do Must Be About Jesus

"Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).

We are becoming a community where all people encounter...what? who? The object of our encounter is not just a nice experience, or a warm, fuzzy feeling. The church does not exist to provide nice programs or simply a handout. The church exists for one primary reason—to help people encounter Jesus Christ. No one else, nothing else. Jesus is the reason we exist, and connecting people to him is why we do what we do.

We do that, however, in a variety of ways because no two people will ever encounter him in the same way. Jesus himself showed us that; he met people where they were. Were they broken? He offered healing—not for the sake of the healing itself (something we've often forgotten in American "showmanship" Christianity) but so that a barrier could be removed from that person's life, so they could see him. Were they hungry? Jesus fed them, sometimes making a meal out of very little (two loaves anyone?). Were they lonely? Jesus offered them friendship. In every situation, Jesus removed the barriers so that they could encounter him. Paul did that too: "I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings" (1 Corinthians 9:22-23).

So where there are hungry people, we offer food. Where there are cold people, we offer clothing. Where there are wounded people, we offer healing. And above all and in all of this, we offer the good news that Jesus wants to meet us, save us and love us for eternity. That's the reason we exist. That's the reason the church has endured. It's not because we have great programs or nice music. The reason the church has endured and will continue to endure until the end of time (Matthew 16:18) is because everything we do is and must be about Jesus.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Have You Ever Fallen?

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delighteth in His way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with His hand" (Psalm 37:23 & 24).

Have you ever fallen?  Of course you have!  You did so a lot when you were learning to walk.  Just ask your parents.  You've all very likely also fallen a few times after being full-grown and how embarrassing that is!  Some of us will remember the low budget ad from the early eighties with the memorable line, "I've fallen and I can't get up."

We've also fallen spiritually; all of us.  The Apostle James says, "We all stumble in many ways" (3:2).  Sometimes we fall "big time", but more commonly in the "small ways". The seasoned Christian pilgrim recognizes spiritual bruises from plummeting falls.  The persevering believer has a testimony of overcoming falls.

I liken my Christian journey to hiking through the heavily wooded forest.  Because of the uneven terrain, the extensive tree roots, rocks and underused trails, I often stumble and might even occasionally fall.  I can linger in a fallen position or I can choose to get up, brush off the debris, and trudge on. And when I'm unaware of what made me fall I need to examine the terrain and see what obstacle I stumbled over. That's a good lesson for the Christian life.

In the latter part of the daily text the Psalmist acknowledges that the godly man falls, but gives us two great promises.

  1. "He shall not be utterly cast down."  Thank God that we have no excuse for staying down after we fall.  God has promised that we will not "be utterly cast down.
  2. "The Lord upholdeth him with His hand."  Grip hold of that truth today, believing friend. The immutable God continues to uphold His children. What an assuring promise.

Have you goofed up, messed up, or even blown it big time?  Perhaps this is even your condition as you read this today. Call on the Name of the Mighty God of the universe.  He will come and save you.  We simply have no reason for saying, "I've fallen, and I can't get up."

This morning's song is Faithful One by Brian Doerksen

Faithful One, so unchanging,
Ageless One, You're my Rock of peace.
Lord of all I depend on You;
I call out to You again and again.

You are my Rock in times of trouble.
You lift me up when I fall down.
All through the storm Your love is the anchor;
My hope is in You alone.

Monday, September 22, 2014

After Worship

So you've been to worship. You've sung the songs. You've heard the Scripture. You've said your prayers and you've endured the sermon. What now? Is worship just something we check off our "to-do" list, or is there some way we should respond?

If we have come ready to encounter Jesus, expecting him to show up, and if we have in fact been in God's presence, such a time should change us in some way. We should not leave worship the same as we came in. And part of the way we express that is by responding to whatever it is we heard God say to us in worship. Sometimes that message comes to us through the music, or the prayers, and sometimes, miraculously, even through the sermon. We should leave worship ready to change our world, to make a difference this week, to live differently this week from the way we did last week. Worship should energize and shape our entire week.

James says that we must find a way to not only hear what God says, but to do it. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at him or herself, goes away and immediately forgets what he/she looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do" (James 1:22-25). 

Perhaps one way to approach this is to spend the day of worship reflecting on what you have heard in worship, and considering ways to express that. This could happen in private prayer or around the dinner table or in conversation with friends over coffee. How will I live out what God expects of me? And then, the rest of the week becomes an attempt, however fumbling, to actually live it out. To, as James says, do what the Word of God says. 

After worship is not a time to put the experience behind us. It is a time for the experience of worship to be internalized first and then externalized or lived out. To do less is to take worship for granted, to treat is as just another thing we have to do. Worship should change us. Our worship might even change those around us.

What did you hear in worship last weekend? In what way will you live that out?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

RMCC Barn Party! 
When: October 11
Time: Dinner at 5:00 p.m.
Where: Sue & Nancy's 8680 Vestal Drive, Saranac

Campfire/Roast your own dog!
Apple Cider/Make a SMORE!
Hay ride featuring "Rosie the Rhino"!
Children Welcome
Bring a Lawn Chair/Bring a Friend!
Bring a Dish to Pass!

Sign up sheet at church for what to bring.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


“I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29).

We can understand when someone wants to celebrate the life of someone who had a great impact on our world. Consider Paul Bunyon, for example. Several communities in the upper Midwest celebrate the larger-than-life lumberjack. Contests and festivals honor him. Woodsmen compete, people play games, and there’s all kind of food. Here’s the problem: these activities and events commemorate a person who did not exist.

In Tampa, Florida, there is a huge annual festival called Gasparilla Days. People skip work and school. There are parties, a flotilla, a mock invasion in a real ship, and a giant parade. The celebration takes its name from a pirate named Jose Gaspar. The problem is Gaspar never existed either.

During Communion, we honor a person who most certainly existed. It is quite rare today to find anyone who does not acknowledge that Jesus lived. Even nonbelievers and Jesus’ enemies admit that he existed. When we come to the Lord’s table we commemorate someone who really lived. He walked our streets and breathed our air. He felt the heat on his face and experienced pain when he stubbed his toe. He felt temptations akin to ours, yet won the battles. He faced criticism and disapproval. Finally, Jesus went to a cross and really died.

Yes, he existed, but we believers go a step further. We not only honor One who existed, but One who still exists. We believe Jesus rose from the dead and lives forever and reigns at the right hand of the Father. He is present with us in the celebration, just as he promised. We also believe he will come for us and take us to our eternal home. Even there, we believe he will join us at the table.

While the way we celebrate might be quite different than others, it is real because Jesus is real and has a real impact on our lives.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Extravagant Generosity

Extravagance, noun. Lack of restraint. Excessive elaborateness. From the Latin meaning "diverging greatly."

When we hear the words "extravagant generosity", most people immediately  probably think of money, and that's certainly involved here, but "extravagant generosity" refers to more than money. It refers to our talents and abilities. It refers to our time. It refers to our resources. And it refers to our money. Extravagant generosity calls us to look at how we use what we have.

Our calling to extravagance comes from the example and life of Jesus himself, who gave everything that he had for our sake. Jesus came from heaven, lived a perfect life, and then gave his life on the cross in order to save us from our sins. Now, we may want to debate how that happened or why he had to die—but that's not the point right now. The point is he gave absolutely everything he had to give. He gave his very life—there is nothing more extravagant than that. "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends" (John 15:3). More extravagant love has no one than to give what they have for the sake of others.

Many a pastor's favorite story of extravagance is found in Exodus 36, where preparations are being made for building the Tabernacle and the call goes out for the people to donate what they have to build this place of worship. And the people respond—too well. In fact, Moses has to tell them to stop bringing stuff because they had too much. The people, Exodus says, had to be "restrained" from bringing more. Wouldn't we love to see that happen in our time—where we had to ask people to stop giving what they have because the mission was already accomplished? That would be a great problem to have! Unfortunately, we're far from that. The average Christian today gives about 2% of their income toward God's work. We have a ways to go toward become extravagantly generous.

Maybe the question is really bigger than our giving. Maybe the question has to do with what's important to us. Remember this word has its root in the idea of "diverging greatly," which to me means that our priorities, as Christian people, are quite different than the priorities of the world. We place a high priority on the mission God has called us to. Which begs the question: is the mission of the church really that important? Is it worth giving what we have in order to see it accomplished?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Faith Muscles

Opinion polls repeatedly reveal that most Americans claim some sort of belief in God, or a god, or a higher power/supreme being. (Whether or not they mean they believe in the God of the Bible is up for debate.) And yet, despite high profession of "belief," attendance at houses of worship continues to be low (some reports say around 30% of the population). In most mainline churches, getting a 50% attendance versus membership rate is considered a success. We believe in...something...or someone...but somewhere along the way, we seem to have gotten the idea that we quit there. As long as we believe and live a "reasonably good life," we don't have to do any more. Somewhere we have bought the idea that faith just "happens."

Some think that because their parents were Christian...or had some sort of faith...they, too, instantly are that same faith. As if the nutrients that flow from the mother to the baby in the womb contains some sort of "faith seed" that makes you the same as your parents. You believe whatever they believe (though, of course, that's changed in recent years) or you believe because they believe. But that still supports the false notion that faith just "happens."

It doesn't. Many churches over the years consist of grandparents and parents that are heavily involved in the church and have been for generations, but where are the kids? And the grandkids? No where to be seen. Faith didn't just "happen." And the idea that they will "come back someday" is increasingly being proven false.

Developing our faith takes a deliberate act.  Even for those who are active in the church and do attend worship, faith doesn't just rub off. Faith doesn't just "happen." Like anything worth doing, faith takes work and planning. We don't inherit faith like a genetic disposition. We can't hang onto our father's or mother's faith. Faith has to be our own. We have to develop it and allow it to grow in our lives.

What does it look like when we are intentional about developing our faith? I suppose it's different for each person still, here are some ideas of how people deliberately work at their faith.

It looks like a parent reading the Bible to her children before bed.
It looks like a parent taking time to pray with their children even before they know what prayer is.
It looks like a family worshiping together.
It looks like a businessperson  making the time to join a small group Bible study even though there are a thousand demands on his or her time.
It might look like simply going to worship every week rather than once a month.
It looks like getting up early to study the Bible and pray before the day begins—or carving out consistent time during the day to do the same.
It looks like a Sunday School teacher studying before arriving at church so that he or she is ready to help shape younger people's faith.
It looks like making a commitment to a long-term Bible study so that you can stop making the excuse, "I just don't understand what's in there."

It looks like this and a million other things we do to develop our faith. People spend millions of dollars and maybe as many hours to develop their healthy lifestyle, to lose weight, to work out—to do things that help their body be stronger and live longer. Why are we not willing to invest the same effort in developing our faith muscles?

What intentional step will you take today toward developing your faith muscles?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Putting Your Whole Self In

Do you remember (of course you do!) the children's song, "The Hokey Pokey"? Yes, a favorite at every skating rink in America because it's an action song, and action songs on skates don't work very well. But, as you remember, you put various parts of your body "in" and then pull them "out" of the circle, then clap along to the refrain, "That's what it's all about!" While I could ponder whether or not the Hokey Pokey really is what it's all about, what I'm more interested in today is the last verse...one that usually went like this: "You put your whole self in..."

Put your whole self in...that would be a good mission statement or action statement for the church. You put your whole self in...to the kingdom of God. You put your whole self in...to the cause of changing the world. You put your whole self in...to doing acts of kindness and relieving human suffering. You put your whole self in...to mission. That's really what it means to participate in the fourth of the five practices: risk-taking mission and service.

All too often, we have reduced "mission" to writing a check to send a missionary somewhere around the world. (We don't even have to put out that much effort anymore, because most mission boards will automatically deduct your monthly contribution from your checking account!) Or we reduce "mission" to bringing in canned goods, school supplies, or winter coats for donation to "the needy." And while those are good and worthwhile (and needed!) actions, they are hardly risk-taking. It is not a risk to write a check or buy an extra can of soup at the store. To truly be involved in mission involves putting our "whole self" in—taking a risk, putting ourselves on the line.

Now, this doesn't have to be going to a far-off land (though it might involve that). It might be as simple as crossing the street toward that neighbor you don't like very much and offering to help with a landscaping project. It might look like going to the inner city of a nearby town and helping in a community center or soup kitchen. It might mean going to another state and working in the midst of impoverished people, knowing you can't change their circumstances, but you can make a small difference for the week you are there. It might mean doing whatever is needed to offer a cup of cold water to someone who is thirsty (both literally and metaphorically). But the point is this: risk-taking mission involves ME, not just my checkbook. Risk-taking service changes ME, not just my account balance. Risk-taking mission and service means I am willing to be touched by "the least of these" and transformed by the God who calls us into mission in the first place.

Are you ready and willing to "put your whole self in"?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

As for me, I call to God

"If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers." (Psalm 55:12-14)

These words literally leapt off the page at me this morning. Psalm 55 is a psalm of David, which could mean David wrote it or it was written about him or in his honor, but as I read the raw, naked emotion that flows out of much of the psalm, and knowing David's own life experience (where even his son turned against him and tried to take the kingdom from him), I imagine David himself writing each and every word, each verse flowing out of his own experience and his own pain. Especially these verses—it's at moments like this that we know the persons in the Bible are real people with real pains, people just like you and me.

Often, as Christians, we take verses like these that pop up in the psalms and apply them immediately to Jesus and to his betrayal by Judas. And I certainly think there is room for that sort of interpretation. But let's take a step back, because even in Judas' betrayal, we see our own lives, and the times when someone we trusted, someone we were close to, someone we loved, took everything precious to us and threw it away.

For some, that may have happened when life long loving relationship comes to an end. A lifetime of hopes, dreams and memories suddenly evaporate and disappear. Someone once asked, "Is this what it comes to, the dividing up of the things we own? That seems so small after all these years." For others, that has happened between close friends. Sometimes we know why and sometimes we don't. Sometimes we are the cause and other times no one is. And it is no comfort to hear that some friends just come along for "a season." In our day, true friends are hard to find (no matter how many "subscribers" you have on Facebook or Twitter), and to lose one, especially in a painful way—it can feel like the world is ending.

Promises broken. Words hurled back in anger. Misunderstandings with no opportunity for resolution. Secrets shared that become fodder for public discussion. We know the pain David is feeling. If an enemy were against us—that we could take. But when someone we treasured turns on us, when someone we worshipped alongside betrays us—that strikes us to the core.

The only thing that ultimately gives David comfort in this psalm is that he still has someone to talk to, someone to turn to. He says, "As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice...God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change..." (Psalm 55:16-17, 19). In all times of distress, but especially in those times when "companions" turn away from us, David reminds us that there is one who will never leave us or forsake us. There is one who is closer than anyone else. There is one who will ultimately judge each person's actions. And that one will always listen to us, and will always be with us.

"As for me," David concludes, "I trust in you" (Psalm 55:23). We can't always trust in people, but we can always trust the one who loved us from before the world began. And that, dear readers, is good news, the very best news of all.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Labor Day Prayer

Lord on this Labor Day, 
we celebrate the work we do,
 and we thank You for the blessing of our jobs. 
We ask for those seeking employment that 
You guide them in their search for work.

We ask for guidance when we are confused.
We ask for patience when working through conflicts.
We ask for strength to complete each day.
We ask for rest when we are weary.

We ask that You be with those whose faces
we might never see but who work tirelessly
each day for the good of us all.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Refresh Yourself

Refresh yourself in the Peace of My Presence. This Peace can be your portion at all times and in all circumstances. Learn to hide in the secret of My Presence, even as you carry out your duties in the world. I am both with you and withing you. I go before you to pen up the way, and I also walk alongside you. There could never be another companion as devoted as I am.

Because I am your constant Companion, there should be a lightness to your step that is observable to others. Do not be weighed down with problems and unresolved issues, for I am you burden-bearer. In the world you have trials and distress, but don't let them get you don. I have conquered the world and deprived it of power to harm you. In Me you may have confident Peace. 

Psalm 31.19-20 NASB; John 16.33 AMP

"Jesus Calling, Enjoying Peace in His Presence" by Sarah Young


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fix Our Eyes Upon Jesus

"Watch out that no one deceives you" (Mark 13:5). “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2).

A fundamental safe driving principle is “Watch the road.”  But distractions abound, probably more than ever. It’s amazing how many people are talking or texting on the phone even through dangerous intersections!

It’s the same with spiritual distractions on our most important journey. In the first daily text Jesus warns His followers to “watch out” concerning deceptions and really, there are so many deceptions that can get us off course, both major and minor. The New Testament Greek Lexicon explains that “Watch out” means to “turn the thoughts or direct the mind to a thing, to consider, contemplate, to look at, to weigh carefully, examine.” That means “paying attention to the road!”

We are to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” The word translated "fix" is a very powerful word that the Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament defines as: "to look away from one thing and to concentrate on another." It's in the present active indicating a call to continue and actively taking a part.

The Amplified Bible words it this way, "looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus." We need to keep an eternal, spiritual focus in life and we do so by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

God Will Sustain Us

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you" (Isaiah 46:4).

What a wonderful assurance this statement brings.  How powerful to read a proclamation by God made over 2,700 years ago!  

It looks back to the self-revealing One that Moses encountered at the burning bush some 700 years earlier, who said, "I AM THAT I AM."   It looks ahead to the One who said some 700 years later "I am."  And today still says, "I am He."

I want to encourage each reader to draw strength from God's promises in this statement: 
I am He who will sustain you.
I have made you.
I will carry you.
I will sustain you.
I will rescue you.

Notice the promise that God will sustain is repeated twice in the text as to give us double the assurance.

Notice that God says, "I have made you and I will carry you", surely a contrast to the false gods made by humanity that must be carried. God will rescue us from the inevitable problems of life.

"God has cared for us from the beginning of our lives, continues to act on our behalf, and will sustain us even to the end." (Note from the Full Life Study Bible)

What troubles you today?  What big problem are you dealing with?  God is a lot bigger than that problem. That indeed is a promise for us all!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Serve God's Purpose Prayer

Abba God, we're grateful for those throughout history who chose to be men and women of faith, whose hearts were fashioned in Your image, and who served Your purpose in their generation. We also want to serve Your purpose in our generation.  Help us to stay steadfast and strong as we run this race set before us.  Thankfully, in this race, we're not in competition to be the only prizewinner. Instead we take hold of the hands of those who run with us and invite those on the sidelines to join us.  We want to cross the finish line together so that we will all receive the grand prize of life eternal with You.  May we never give up! Amen.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Prayers from Shantideva and St. Francis


May I be a guard for those who need protection,

A guide for those on the path,

A boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood.

May I be a lamp in the darkness,

A resting place for the weary,

A healing medicine for all who are sick,

A vase of plenty, a tree of miracles;

And for the boundless multitudes of living beings,

May I bring sustenance and awakening,

Enduring like the earth and sky

Until all beings are freed from sorrow,

And all are awakened.


Make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Being, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.  It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.  It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Pastor is on Sabbatical

Dear Reconciliation MCC Family,

Through the generosity and support of this congregation, Pastor Steph has been granted a sabbatical through the month of August. She will return to church doing administrative duties on September 1, 2014 and back to full duties including preaching on Oct 1, 2014. This allows her the precious opportunity to experience rest and renewal after helping care for her mom in a long term illness and her death on July 19.

While away, our Board of directors, Rev Lin Stoner, and Betty Martin and all ministry teams will continue their vital work, and faithful ministry.

Pastor Steph is incredibly grateful for the privilege and blessing of serving as our pastor and for this wonderful gift of time away for rest and spiritual renewal.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Relax In My Healing Presence

Relax in my healing presence. As you spend time with Me, your thoughts tend to jump ahead to today's plans and problems. Bring your mind back to Me for refreshment and renewal. Let the Light of My Presence soak into you, as you focus your thoughts on Me. Thus I equip you to face whatever the day brings. This sacrifice of time pleases Me and strengthens you. Do not skimp on our time together. Resist the clamor of tasks waiting to be done. You have chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from you.

Psalm 105.4; Luke 10.39-42


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Gay and Christian: Believers Speak Reconciling Being Gay and Christian

Gay and Christian: Believers Speak Reconciling Being Gay and Christian Community Speakers Panel Discussion Presentation Topics How Can We Reconcile What the Bible Says with Who We Are? What Are the Cultural, Translation, and Interpretation Issues of the “Homosexual” Bible Passages? How Can We Reconcile the Fundamental Issues of Faith with the Fundamental Issues of Being Human? What is My Relationship to Christianity and the Church after I Come Out as Gay? How Can the Church Welcome Gay People in a Way that Honors Scripture and the Message of Christ? Speakers Dr Matthew Clark Clinical Psychologist The Clark Institute GayChristianTherapy.com Dr Stephanie Sandberg Calvin College Professor Author of Seven Passages, Lines, and Grains of Hope Daniel Dobson Writer, Cornerstone University Alumni, Veteran, and Pastor's Son Community Members’ Personal Stories and Testimonials Panel Discussion/ Q and A Wealthy Theater 1130 Wealthy St. SE Grand Rapids, MI Thursday May 30 7-9pm $10 Adults/ $8 with Student ID Tickets Will Be Available at the Door

LGBT YOUTH Workshop for Parents and Professionals

What:  Helping LGBT Youth:   
                               Workshop for Parents, Therapists, Teachers/School Counselors,
                               Youth Pastors/Leaders, Attorneys, and Anyone Working with Youth
When: Saturday, August 23, 9am-2:30pm
Where:  Conference Room in the Waters Building, 161 Ottawa Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Who: Dr. Matthew Clark, Gay Christian Psychologist
Cost:  $75.00
RSVP and Prepayment is Required due to Room Occupancy and Food/Beverage
Morning Bagels, Fruit, Water, Tea, and Coffee will be provided by Sundance Grill
Lunch is On Our Own with Sundance Grill in the Building and a Variety of Restaurants in the Area

Advice for parents of Lesbian/Gay/Transgender Youth and Those Who Work with Them
Who is Here and Why?
All the New Terms and Our Youth's Thoughts
What LGBT Youth are Facing Today and What They Need from Us
How to Help Your Youth with His/Her/Their "Coming Out Process" and Development
The Parent's and Youth Leader's Coming Out Process in a World that May Not Support: How to Help You
Teachers and School Counselors:  What to Look For and How to Help
Creating Safe Schools and Gay Straight Alliances
Helpful Therapy:  How Conversion Therapies Harm and What LGBT Youth Need in Their Therapy
Parent and Therapists' Testimonies:  The Fall Downs and Bounce Ups
The Legal World and Rights You May Not Know
What the Bible REALLY Says about Homosexuality (misinterpretation/mistranlation/misuse):  The Church and Christianity in Response to the LGBT Youth and their Families
How this Information May Help You and Your Youth
Overview and Respectful Dialogue and Q&A
Have questions about Helping Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Bisexual (LGBT) Youth?Contact Dr. Matthew Clark

Click here

God is Fully Attentive

Come to me with a teachable spirit, eager to be changed. A close walk with Me is a life of continual newness. Do not cling to the old ways as you step into a new day. Instead, seek My Face with an open mind, knowing that your journey with Me involved being transformed by the renewing of your mind. As you focus your thoughts on Me, be aware that I am fully attentive to you. I see you with a steady eye, because My attention span is infinite. I know and understand you completely; My thoughts embrace you in everlasting Love. I also know the plans I have for you: plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Give yourself fully to this adventure of increasing attentiveness to My Presence.

Romans 12.22 and Jeremiah 29.11


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New Shed Arrives

Last winter took a toll on our shed with the weight of the snow caving it in. This morning the new shed arrived.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Micah's Rule will be ministering in music at RMCC on Sunday Aug 3, 2014.  Invite your friends and neighbors! A love offering will be taken. http://www.micahsrule.com/


Monday, July 21, 2014

Frances F. Maxson

    July 19, 2014

 Life Legacy

MAXSON, Frances F. "Faith"-age 73 of Mt. Morris passed away
Saturday, July 19, 2014 at her residence. Funeral services will be
 held 1:00 pm Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Family will receive friends
 and guests from 10:00 am until the start of service which will begin
promptly at 1:00 pm at First Baptist Church of Clio 218 S. Mill St.
 Clio, MI. Pastor Jim Marcus officiating. The final resting place for
Ms. Maxson will be West Vienna Cemetery, Vienna Twp.

F. Faith Maxson was born May 13, 1941 in Clio, MI the daughter
of Benjamin and Mary Brunges. She was a long time resident of  Clio
 attending Clio schools and graduating from Clio H.S. c/o 1959.
 Later she worked for General Motors and retired from Buick after
 22 years of service.

F. Faith Maxson is survived by her children, Steph Maxson,
Val Taubitz, Jeff Maxson, several grandchildren and
 great-grandchildren, many nieces and nephews and other family members.

F. Faith Maxson was preceded in death by: brothers,
Frank and Jim Brunges; sisters, Ruth Burley, Mary Bacon.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made
to the cause of your choice.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

We wanted to inform you that last night Saturday July 19, 2014, Rev. Pastor Steph Maxson's mother passed away after a prolonged illness.  Pastor and her family are thankful for your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.  We are asking  everyone to respect  family's wishes for privacy and not contact Pastor or Janet during this time of grief.  As soon as final arrangements have been made, we will post the information.  If you have any questions, concerns or needs for prayer please contact Betty Martin, Rev. Lyn, or Wendy Heltsley (616-723-3538). 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

And Still, He Leads Us On

He leads us on by paths we did not know;
Upward He leads us, though our steps be slow,
Though oft we faint and falter on the way,
Though storms and darkness oft obscure the day;
     Yet when the clouds are gone,
     We know He leads us on.
He leads us on through all the unqueit years;
Past all our dreamland hopes, and doubts and fears,
He guides our steps, through all the tangled maze
Of losses, sorrows, and o'er clouded days;
     We know His will is done;
     And still He leads us on.

                           ~ Nicholaus LudwigZinzendorf


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Music Ministry: There will be a meeting on Sunday July 20, 2014 after church service for anyone who feels called to be involved in the upcoming music ministry in either vocal or instrumental. If you have any questions you may Tammy Steadman at 231-734-3900 or email tfsteadman@yahoo.com

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Church Picnic Sat. July 19, 2014

On Saturday July 19, 2014, the RMCC Church picnic/pool party will be hosted at the home of Cindy George.  The address is 1815 Ball Ave. NE. GR.49505, from 1-7 pm. Bring a side dish to share and a swimsuit and towel. Brats will be provided. We will eat at 5.  Contact Cindy with questions at-616-460-8012, email-cynthia1815@comcast.net). 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Talk About The Good Stuff

But I tell you, on the day of judgement people will have to give account for every (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak. ~ Matthew 12.36

It seems to me that we talk about how we feel more than practically anything else. We feel good or bad, happy or sad, excited or discouraged, and a thousand other things. The inventory of the various ways we feel is almost endless. Feelings are ever-changing, usually without notification. These feelings don't need our permission to fluctuate; they merely seem to do as they please for no specific reason we can identify. We have all experienced going to bed feeling just fine physically and emotionally, only to wake up the next morning feeling tired and irritable. "Why? Why do I feel this way?" we ask ourselves, and then we usually begin to tell anyone who will listen how we feel. It's interest to not that we tend to talk a lot more about our negative feelings then we do our positive ones.

If I wake up feeling energetic and excited about the day, I rarely announce it to everyone I come in contact with; however, if I feel tired and discouraged, I want to to tell everyone. I has taken me years to learn that talking about how I feel increases the intensity of those feelings. So it seems to me that we should keep quiet about the negative feelings and talk about the positive ones.

You can always tell God how you feel and ask for Gods help and strength, but talking about negative feelings just to be talking does no good at all. If negative feelings persist, asking for prayer or seeking advice based on biblical truth is a good thing, but once again I want to stress that talking just to be talking is useless.

If we have to wait to see how we feel before we know if we can enjoy the day, then we are giving feelings control over us. But if we are willing to make right choices regardless of how we feel, God will always be faithful to give us the strength to do so.

How are you feeling? If you're feelings are positive, tell someone. If they are negative, tell God, and trust God to work things out. Regardless of how you feel, choose to enjoy your day!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

North Central U.S. Network Gathering Aug 1 - 2

The North Central U.S. Network Gathering is a few weeks away!  Friday August 1 and Saturday August 2 at MCC Illiana in Portage, IN!  Click here for more information.

Read the New Testament

Did you know that a person with an average reading speed (230 words per minute) can read through the entire New Testament in one year, reading an average of three minutes a day, five days a week?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Daily Bread

Most of us are very rich when we consider the perspective of the tremendous poverty in many, many parts of the world, especially third-world countries. I have visited some of these countries and seen people that truly know the meaning of "daily bread."  Most of us certainly have far more than "daily bread" don't we?  Our food pantries and clothes closets are filled.  We are "rich in this present world" (1 Timothy 6:17) and do well to regularly heed the cautions.

Today let us count our blessings, share generously from our bounty, and praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Monday, July 7, 2014

God is in Control

God doesn't always act according to our expectations or our time table and that's a critical test of faith, particularly when we deal with the great "why" questions. But God is always in absolute control even when the situation we experience seems contrary to that truth.

Today I want to encourage each of you, especially those of you who are facing an agonizing situation where you lack understanding. May the Lord give you a deep and abiding assurance of His steadfast love and care as You seek Him above all.  Indeed God is in control!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Church Windows being installed

Installation of our new church windows is in progress.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Do Not Let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me" (John 14:1).

Jesus gave a word of assurance in the daily text as He was preparing His disciples for the climactic events over the next several days. However I believe His words are very applicable to any situation or trouble that His followers all through the ages are dealing with. Let us hear these words from Scripture:  "Do not let your hearts be troubled" Jesus forthrightly commands.  We need to recognize that "peace of heart" is available to the Christian believer and most desirable in the midst of troubling circumstances.

"Trust in God; trust also in me," Jesus said.  The key to having peace in our heart in the midst of trouble is to keep our trust and focus on the Lord. Today in whatever trouble you face I pray that trust and assurance will flood your heart so that you will be filled with the peace that surpasses understanding.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Holy Rollers Visit RMCC

Thanks for the visit, Holy Rollers of MCC Detroit. It was great to worship and fellowship with them. Also a shout out and thanks to Betty who coordinated the potluck and all those who provided a tasty meal!

From left to right: 
Bob, Don, Pastor Steph, Ann, and Rev Deb

Friday, June 27, 2014

Windows have arrived

The new windows for church have arrived! This could not have have happened without funding and time of many generous souls. Thank you all!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Make The Most Out of Every Opportunity

"And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (Colossians 4:3-6).

I want to focus on just a phrase "make the most of every opportunity." These are the opportunities to "proclaim the mystery of Christ." The apostle Paul requested prayer from the Colossian believers, "that God may open a door for our message." That should be a daily request for us as well. This is not just for those in formal positions of "ministry" such as a pastor or missionary, but for all who follow Christ and seek to let His light shine through them. Just like that dear lady who is now with the Lord and that Human Resource director.

May the Lord help all of us this day to indeed "make the most of every opportunity."


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wondrous Love!

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16)

It's great to love and to be loved isn't it?  Some of us have a loving supporting family and homes filled with love. What a blessing. We may also have many friends, an extended family and a church characterized by AGAPE love.

John 3:16 begins with the glorious phrase, "God so loved the world".  Amen, God sure does and God specifically loves you and me this day and everyday.  You may have experienced a loving earthly family , others have not. Undoubtedly some have had a very difficult time in life and still do.  There are those reading this who've been abused and carry deep scars.  The sacred trust between an earthly spouse, parent,  sibling, spouse or friend was violated.

Those who bear deep scars especially take note.  You are now learning to trust your heavenly Parent who is altogether trustworthy.  God's steadfast love never ceases. I know many of you have long ago memorized the daily verse. It's perhaps the single most memorized verse in the entire Bible. Hide it deep in your heart.  I find it helpful to personalize it. "For God so loved me that He gave His one and only Son, that when I believe in Him I shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Indeed, such love, such wondrous love!

Monday, June 23, 2014

I am the way and the truth and the life

The Gospel of John  records an incident that took place shortly before Christ went to the Cross.  He offers His disciples one of the great promises of the Bible. "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:1-3).  After three years of being with His disciples and teaching them Jesus was confident that they knew where He was going and forthrightly says, "You know the way to the place where I am going" (v. 4).

But Thomas asked a question indicating a need for further clarification and direction. I believe he spoke for more than himself and I appreciate his candid honesty.  "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"  (John 14:5).  God is ever a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him and Thomas was a diligent seeker.  Christ did not rebuke him or the other disciples, but graciously proclaims one of the most familiar and memorized Bible truths; "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

We've all gotten lost at some point in our lives haven't we?  I suppose many of you have a good story about getting lost that you could tell. But God's directions in regard to our ultimate, desired destination are absolutely complete and trustworthy.  I believe the key words are, "I am".  With Jesus as our Lord, Savior, and Guide we are assured of reaching our heavenly home.  Are you trusting Christ today?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

God's Faithful Follower

Jesus said, "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) This statement has often intrigued me. Will he? Join me today in making a renewed commitment in staying faithful to our God as we daily heed God's call upon our lives. Rest in the assurance that God will continue to lead us and join me in declaring this day, "God's faithful follower I will be!"