Pastor's Blog
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January 7, 2016, 3:06 PM

A Fresh Start

January is the time when people make resolutions to better themselves.  Sadly, many of the resolutions are abandoned before the month has concluded.  It seems we mentally know we need to do better and be better, yet we struggle to do-what-it-takes to affect positive change in our lives.  On the first Sunday of January 2016, I shared a message challenging our congregation to grow spiritually in the new year like they have never grown before.  To help that become a reality, I provided tools to equip them for growth:  prayer lists, a Bible reading guide, information on tithing, and instructions on how to live victoriously over temptation.  The reality is--all the tools in the world will not help us until we choose to use them.  

There are countless people around us who wish they could reboot life, start over, and have a fresh start.  Society rarely allows for fresh starts.  As a matter of fact, society is very intent upon tieing us to our past failures to the point of making the past inescapable.  One of the incredible blessings God gives to those who seek Him and ask for His forgiveness is the freedom of a fresh start.  What we once were does not matter.  He forgives...removes our past indiscretions from us...then gives us a new beginning free of the past garbage!  2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"  I am so glad God gives fresh starts!  

If you need a new beginning and a fresh start, call out to God from a sincere heart and He will answer you.  This new year, choose to live closer to God than ever before.

December 18, 2015, 5:56 PM

The Price of Christmas

Peggy and I finished the last of our Christmas gift purchases on December 17th.  Perhaps it would be more accurate to say we think we finished.  There may be a couple more items that catch our attention over the next week that might cause us to make another purchase.  It takes deliberate, careful discipline to avoid allowing the cost involved with Christmas gift-buying from draining every bit of holiday cheer out of us!  Just this morning, I talked with a retiree who told me if they buy for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, they can easily spend $800-$1,000 for Christmas presents each year.  On their fixed income, those kind of expenditures are debilitating.  Years ago, as our extended family became too numerous to buy Christmas gifts for, we “drew names” so that we only needed to buy gifts for however many members were in our immediate family.  That helped considerably, but that meant our household still needed to make six-gift purchases at about $25-each.  Because we lived so far from family and were not around for Christmas, we were soon dropped from the drawing-of-names.  Even though we now only buy gifts for our immediate family which consists of our four adult children, two sons-in-law, and six-grandchildren, it can still make a painful dent in the checkbook.   Peggy and I rarely make a gift purchase that is not “on sale.”  We also do not respond to expensive gift requests.  Instead, we buy gifts that we believe the recipient will like, providing those gifts are affordable.  I have become known as a very resourceful gift-buyer who finds many unique, fun gifts.  Peggy and I also try to pay “cash” for everything, yet if we put it on a charge card, the bill is paid-off within 30-days.  We absolutely refuse to be so self-destructive and foolish as to place ourselves in a dire financial situation just to provide a fleeting moment of happiness to our family members.  We do not want to set that type of negative example for them. 

While we measure the price of Christmas based on the impact gift-purchasing makes on our bank accounts, we dare not miss the price God Himself paid to provide us with the perfect Gift that first Christmas.  He gave us an irreplaceable Gift of  indescribable value!  While we struggle to find “just the right gift,” God lavished on us The Gift that every person needs!  He gave us The Redeemer…The Savior…JESUS!   I love the name given to Jesus in Matthew 1:23—“Emmanuel”, meaning ”God with us.”  In Luke 2:11, the angels declared, “a Savior has been born to you.”  Do you see the personalization of God’s Gift--“God with us”…”a Savior born to you”?  He came just for YOU!  God paid the ultimate price to redeem us when He gave us His Son.  Praise God for His amazing love!  

November 28, 2015, 11:59 AM

Spiritual Corrosion

Up until this past week, we had three-vehicles.  One of our vehicles was not functioning and Peggy needed her car for work.  I was not concerned because our 1995 Chevy S-10 pickup truck was sitting there at the curb.  Unfortunately, it had been sitting at the curb much too long because when I got in, it would not start.  Our initial diagnosis was that the battery had “died”.  As a last resort, I fired-up my motorcycle and used it.

A few days later, a friend of ours asked if he could have the key to my truck.  He wanted to clean the battery terminals and the battery cables.  When I got home that evening, there was a note laying on the counter alongside my truck key.  The note simply stated the truck was running now that the cables had been cleaned. 

When the truck did not start, I looked at the battery cables.  They were obviously dirty, but did not appear to be too badly corroded.  My truck had only been driven a couple of times in the previous three-months.  As it sat there doing nothing, there was a slow, steady, unnoticed corrosion taking place on the battery cables. Even though it did not appear to be a severe situation, it was enough to block all the power to the engine.  It was not until the corrosion was cleared away that power was restored and I was able to drive the truck once again.

Spiritually, we can slowly and almost without notice, allow things to corrode our lives and block the power of God.  Even when we are sitting by doing little or nothing, there can be a build-up of “spiritual corrosion” that causes a spiritual disconnect, resulting in us living spiritually powerless lives.  This “spiritual corrosion” develops from inconsistent or habitual praying, intermittent Bible reading, careless church attendance, allowing wrong attitudes to arise, disobedience to what we know God wants of us, to name a few. Our prayer power is depleted; our spiritual vision is impaired; and even our faith is diminished because we have carelessly allowed “spiritual corrosion” to sap our spiritual strength. 

To regain the strength and power God has for us, we must CONFESS that we have allowed these divisive items to deplete our spiritual power.  ASK God to clear away everything that inhibits His power in our lives.  Allow Him to FILL us with His Spirit once again with a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “You will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses….”  If there seems to be a power shortage in your soul, you may need the Lord’s fresh cleaning.

November 10, 2015, 4:36 PM

Finally Home!

When we moved to the Illinois District in July 2012, I heard of an elderly, retired Nazarene pastor on this District who was 106-years-old.  Although advanced in age, Rev. George Reader was still mentally sharp, was a "Prayer Warrior," and loved to invest himself in pastors.  As I heard more about him, I soon realized what a giant-in-the-faith he was!  I believe it was my first District Assembly here that they honored Rev. Reader.  They asked him to testify.  He shared about God's faithfulness across the years, how God had blessed him, and how thankful he was for Biblical holiness.  As he shared about the Holy Spirit, he became excited.  It seemed as though the fresh wind of God's Spirit descended over that Assembly confirming that what Rev. Reader was testifying about was real, authentic, and needed by us all!

In May of this year, I expressed to Rev. Reader's pastor that I wanted to come visit with him.  His pastor contacted me a few weeks later informing me if I wanted to visit Rev. Reader, I better do it soon.  Rev. Reader had informed him the Lord told him He would be bringing Rev. Reader Home to Heaven very soon.  Rev. Reader was thrilled to soon be going home to Heaven!   On June 17, 2015, I had the privilege of spending about 80-minutes with 108-year-old Rev. George Reader at his home.  I took a video camera, set it on a tripod, and recorded the impromptu meeting.  Three young pastors were there with me that day.  We asked Rev. Reader questions about the past, listened intently as he shared about God's faithfulness, and were thoroughly blessed as he admonished us to preach Biblical holiness at all costs!  We laughed together; shed tears of joy as we listened to him recount how God had worked in his life across more than a century; and then he prayed for us.  My how Rev. Reader prayed!  As we left him that day, the last time I ever saw him, he was encouraging us to "Go with God!"  We stood on the porch talking with one of his sons and sharing what a special morning that was for us.  His son told us the man we saw that morning is the same man he had known all his who was totally surrendered to God, serving his Lord with nothing held back.

The other morning, Rev. Reader crossed the line of worlds, leaving earth behind and walking into Heaven.  He was finally Home!  I can imagine what shouting and praising God Rev. Reader did as he finally saw his Savior face-to-face!  What indescribable joy he experienced as he heard Jesus say, "Well done, My good and faithful servant!"  Finally Home!  

I am challenged to follow in Rev. Reader's footsteps.  No one can ever replace such a spiritual giant, but God needs righteous men and women who will call the next generation to greater faithfulness to our Savior.  He needs those who will be living examples of holiness and Godly living.  The Lord needs individuals who will point others toward Home.  I need to be one of those people...and so do you.  

October 30, 2015, 10:57 AM

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Appearances can be deceiving!  Our daughter recently began the arduous task of car shopping.  She is quite particular regarding what kind of car she wants.  She is also frugal, something we attempted to teach all four of our children.  This daughter learned the lessons better than her siblings!  Some of the vehicles we have looked at appeared to be in good a distance.  When we got close, we soon discovered serious issues with the automobiles.  In one case, the salesman told us he would not sell us the car we were casually looking at because it had so many issues!  

I have met individuals who appeared to be strong and healthy, when in fact, they were quite ill.  My perception of them was based on what I thought I saw.  Countless times I have talked briefly with someone at church who appeared to be doing wonderfully, when in reality they were hurting intensely.  They created a facade, a false front, to prevent others from knowing what was actually going on in their lives.  Because I encountered those type of situations far more frequently than I wanted, some years ago I began asking two questions when I shook hands with people at church.  I asked, "How are you doing today?"  If their response was that they were doing well, I asked a second question:  "Are you lying to me?"   A surprising number of times, people answered, "Yes, Pastor, I am lying.  I am struggling."  In those honest moments, I listened intently and tried to help.  On several occasions, I prayed with those individuals because their need was weighing them down.  

Move beyond simple greetings and formalities with people.  Take time to really care.  Appearances can be deceiving.  We each need authentic friends who will look beyond the veneer we plaster upon ourselves and push through to see us as we truly are.  Let's care enough to push past appearances and see one another as we are.

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