Monday, July 25, 2016

Life is a Highway

It’s about 3 hours until we start our adventure to Ethiopia.  

I’m a little nervous, I’m responsible for this group until we make it to Addis. I’ve never been there before so I don’t know what to expect.  I do know to not expect a smooth trip. That is the biggest lesson I’ve learned on the few mission trips I’ve been on.

Something will happen and you will have to roll with it. At times like that you just have to let go of the wheel and trust God to get you where He wants you even if it’s not where you intended.

I do better on trips when things happen than when things go haywire in my everyday life.  It’s easy to trust God for the long run when the long run is 10 days.  When its your lifetime it’s harder to give up the drivers seat.

When Jeremy and I drove across country last month we took turns driving.  While he drove I talked, checked my phone and kept him company.  When I drove he did the same.
The naps were the best. I trusted Jeremy’s driving so much that I literally laid down in the back seat and slept for hours.

For so much of my life I borrowed the car from God. He bought the gas, and snacks but I drove.  Sure once in a while I’d let him take a turn but it was never long before I wanted back behind the wheel. I was comfortable being in control just taking the driving directions from God.

Just like the trip with Jeremy though, I found myself ignoring the turn by turn and rerouting the vehicle.  I looked good, no one on the road knew I was lost. They could see me and Jesus in the carpool lane but I knew and so did He.

I’m 38 again this year (long story) and more than anything I want to let God do the driving.  His shifts have gotten longer and longer over the last 5 years but I still manage to take a turn every once in a while when we stop for gas.

My hope for me and for you is more time in the back seat finding rest in through our faith in Jesus’ driving   (M11:29)

I’ll see you all next week. Remember us in your prayers.

Thanks for reading


Alan

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sometimes the Strap Breaks

How does a person that is on the mountain now talk to a person that is in the valley?  Does the person in the valley look up to the mountain and say to themselves “What does this guy know about the valley, he’s up there right now on the mountaintop.”  “Anyone can praise God on the mountain.”

These are the things that I worrried about recently when a friend of mine hit the valley and life seemed to bottom out on him. 

It’s easy to say to someone “pray about it” when things are going good for you.
When I was a new Christian nothing infuriated me more than someone saying that to me when I had a problem.

So today I was thinking and praying about what to say to my friend and 2 Kings chapter 6 came to my mind.  It’s here we find a story that reminds us of a simple biblical fact.

Elisha was living in a prophetic community. 

Israel had prophets and often times they were not the most popular people.  Turns out when you tell an entire race of people they are doing it wrong it can cause some problems.
There are some however that get on board right away and they sometimes would form a community. These were very poor communities and the people often sacrificed comfort in order to live a more authentic life.

The meeting hall in this particular community was getting too small to be of good use so they say to Elisha that they would like to build a new one.
A place to meet that is larger and will accommodate more of them or at least the current amount of them more comfortably.

Elisha says “Go ahead” .  Because he is kinda their leader they ask him to come along.  He agrees, and before long they are cutting wood for the structure when one man working just as hard as the others I'm sure loses his axe head in the river.  

Remember this was a small community they likely shared everything. Iron tools were few and far between and likely expensive. There was no real way for this man to compensate the axe’s owner. It’s not like today when you can run down and get a new axe at Lowe’s.

Elisha calms the man down and asks him to point where the axe head went in.  After doing so Elisha takes a stick and throws it in the river at the spot the Axe head submerged and the axe head floats to the surface.  The man grabs the axe head and the day is saved.

Sometimes we are hard at work a tool in the hand of God and through no fault of our own the strap breaks and we are flung from where God can use us into the dark.  It’s not a punishment or an indictment its just the way of this sinful broken world.
We feel like the axe head on occasion sinking further away from our purpose.  No longer useful and separated from the rest of the tools.

God has many tools he could use. There are literally millions of tools waiting to be used.   You however are His perfect tool for some job. you may not know what the job is but its you that He wants to use. 

He won't just go get another axe.
It’s in those times that we have to remember God knows where we are, he never loses sight of where we went under
He promises never to leave us or forsake us. If we seek Him and we talk to 

Him even in the mud He will float us to the top again.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Free to Question - Pastor Matt Johnson

John the Baptist was a great man from scripture, arguably one of the most significant figure in the bible. He was filled with the Holy Spirit form birth according to Luke1:15. He was the first prophet since Malachi, about 400 years earlier. His coming was foretold over 700 years before his birth by Isaiah in Isaiah 40:3-5. He was sent to prepare the way for God himself. He was the son of a priest and from the line of Aaron. He lived a rugged life in the mountains of Judea, living on “locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4)

John’s ministry grew in popularity, and he spoke boldly to the religious leaders, going so far as to call them a “brood of vipers”, which Jesus echoes in Matthew 12. It was unthinkable to speak to religious leader like that in that day, but John’s faith gave him boldness in the face opposition. 

His message was also growing in popularity, so much so that he had to warn his disciples, “I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.” (John 3:28) He had reached such high acclaim that many thought he was the Messiah, but John was quick to bow to Jesus saying, “He must become greater; I must become less.” in John 3. 

John recognized Jesus for who he was at His baptism proclaiming, “I need to be baptized by You and You are coming to me?” He saw that Jesus was without sin, and that he was unfit to baptize the spotless Lamb of God, his own savior. This is a man that Jesus said this about: “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John.” (Luke 7:28)

John knew, and believed whole heartedly, that Jesus was Messiah saying , “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” John was serious about his faith, and lived his life to point others to Christ. He was fearless. He stood firm in his faith no matter the circumstances, even to the point of death. It was his speaking out against King Herod that landed him in prison and ultimately lead to his death. 

But this great pillar of faith doubted…

This gives me great encouragement in my own walk. In Matthew 11, John sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus tell John’s disciples to go back and tell John about the miracles they have seen and heard there. Jesus could have easily said, “John, know that I am God.”, and John would have known exactly who Jesus was and followed without question. But it is our questions that strengthen our faith. Jesus knew the power of free will and the importance of us working through our doubts and figuring out the answers for ourselves. It is our questions the make our faith, and our God is big enough to stand up to those questions not matter what they are. So take heart, we all question God. But it is in the seeking that we find Him. 

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Matt

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Day I Met a Lawyer

The Peter moment, what is it?
Peter was told he would deny Christ.  Then after arguing with Jesus (that’s a blog for another day) still didn’t think he would.  
We all know he did, its mentioned in all 4 gospels. In all but one of them Peter immediately breaks down weeping.
The Peter moment is when when your failure is met with the light of the truth.  Even if its only exposed to you too have no choice but to do something about it. 

The Peter moment spurs change.

That is how it was explained to me on a hot summer day at Rosemont Elementary School by Irma Cobian

Irma was once a pretty high powered lawyer for one of the top ten law offices in the country. Her boss later went on to work for a President.

One day while she was working, her boss asked why there weren't more people like her working in law?  
She thought he was talking about women and commented back that there were plenty of women in the field of law.
It was then that he handed her a copy of the Wall St Journal where there was an article the said only 45% of latin people graduate high school and only 5% went to college.

That was Irma’s peter moment.  She was face to face with the truth that there were so many she could help besides herself.

Shortly after that meeting Irma Cobian, stepped down from a high powered very lucrative job to become a school teacher.  

That was roughly 28 years ago and since her Peter moment Irma has helped countless kids find a better life through education. The passion she has for not just latin american but kids in general is truly amazing.

Irma Cobian is a hero to so many kids that have no idea the life she gave up just to help them.  

Irma was well aware of her Peter moment and she chose to make a change.  She chose others rather than herself.  Knowing it was going to make life more difficult for her.  

I want to talk to you quickly about another Peter moment.  A second time Irma followed in the footsteps of Peter.  A time that she may have not even realized it but a moment we can all learn from.

See, Irma compared herself to Peter at his moment of failure. It was his weeping for his mistakes that resonated with her so deeply that she chose a new path.

I don’t see it like that. I see Irma more like the Peter of Matthew 4:19-20. Jesus said follow me and “at once the left their nets and followed him.”
Thats the Peter I see in Irma’s example.

Irma heard the voice and she put down her nets, nets filled with the success of the world and carved out a great life helping others and following Him.

Look at your past and the things that made you turn to Jesus. The things that finally allowed you to hear His voice.  Irma had a realization that changed so many lives.  A lot of us don’t have a realization without rock bottom. You hit the bottom and you find Jesus is there waiting.  It wasn’t the circumstances and your mistakes that lead you to the bottom that changed your life. 
Don’t give those things the power. Jesus called you out of them and your mistakes are gone.
Your mistakes didn’t change your life, Jesus did.

Thank you for reading.