Thursday, December 30, 2010

Memories

In a few days, if the Lord does not return, we will turn the page on another year. At the end of each year there is a message conveyed that while we are to look back at what transpired in the previous year, we are not to linger there too long. The songs we sing reinforce this idea. For example, "Auld Lang Syne" which means, "long, long ago" or "days gone by" or "old times." People burst out in song, "Let old acquaintance be forgot..." And if you are a Barbra Streisand fan you may find yourself humming, "Memories, like the corners of my mind. Misty water color memories of the way we were." Yes, when the New Year comes we wipe a tear away of what was and forget about it, moving on to what the new year will hold. A New Year in which we hope things will get better. However, God doesn't want us to forget. He wants us to remember. What He wants us to remember is His character and His works. We are to remember who He is and what He has done for us. Every time we celebrate Holy Communion Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:26, "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes." Some may ask, "Why would God want to keep on harping on such a morbid thought as death?" The answer lies in what Christ's death accomplished which is our salvation. We are never to forget the great sacrifice that came from the Father's heart. The loving expression which gave up His sinless Son for us sinful human beings that did not deserve His grace. God's call to remember permeates the Scriptures through His direct voice as well as the voice of His prophets and Christ's disciples. As I continue to struggle with this new season of my life, I sometimes suffer "memory loss" as I cry out to God for help. Recently, in such a moment God directed my attention to the book of Deuteronomy, the "swan song" of Moses to the people of Israel. Moses says to the people, "What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to Him?  Only be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.." (italics mine) Deuteronomy 4:7,9a. God has been good to me in allowing me to see and experience things both in the natural and the supernatural as I walk with Him. It is so easy to get wrapped up in self absorption that we fail to do the one thing God has commanded which is to remember and never forget the greatness of our God. So as we enter a new year, what will you choose to do? Will you be like those who in the guise of "celebrating" drink themselves into unconsciousness trying to forget and wipe away the pain of the past, hoping things will get better next year? Or will you choose to remember "the things your eyes have seen and not let them slip from your heart as long as you live?" I encourage you to change your perspective and remember our God. Read Psalm 77 and join with the psalmist who out of His distress was able to declare, "I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all Your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?" (Psalm 77:11-13)
Blessings in Christ this New Year,
Pastor Sheree 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Want To Hold Your Hand

Studies have shown that touch is a very powerful thing. Premature babies are noted to respond to the touch of their parents stroking their tiny hand through an opening in the incubator. The power of touch conveys a sense of safety and security as well as comfort. Parents will take their children by the hand to protect and guide them when crossing the street. When a person is afraid holding their hand says to them, "I'm right here with you." During an uncomfortable medical procedure or pain stemming from an illness, holding the person's hand lets them know that although you can't experience the pain for them, you can be their strength. Hand holding in a dating or marriage relationship says "I love you and I want to be connected to you." Even in the process of dying, there is an unspoken moment in the holding of the hand that exists between the dying person and their surviving relative that helps the dying person make the transition to the afterlife. Hand holding is an intimate experience. Did you know God wants to hold your hand? I was recently meditating during my time with the Lord and seeking some reassurance from Him as I continue to wait upon His direction for the next season in my life. I was drawn to Isaiah 42:6a, "I, the Lord have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. (italics mine) The Lord wants to be that intimate with us. He wants to be our comfort and strength. He wants us to know He's right there with us when we are afraid and He will keep us safe in His care. He wants us to know He loves us and wants to be connected to us. And when it is our time to leave this life and walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is right there to transition us to the life everlasting if we have trusted in Him. Yes, God came down and took the hand of a young virgin named Mary as the infant Jesus. And as He grew into a man, Jesus throughout the gospels literally touched many people, even the so-called "untouchables", "sinners", and "outcasts." Likewise, they were allowed to touch Him. So let us not hesitate to touch another person, literally holding their hand. Because the God who created the universe reaches out to us everyday and says, "I want to hold your hand through all the seasons of your life."
Have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year !
Pastor Sheree

Monday, December 13, 2010

In Hot Pursuit

It has been a very atypical day at work. I was scheduled to have a full day of clients but from the time I arrived this morning, my clients have either forgotten their appointment or run into some unforseen circumstance. As of this writing I have one more client I am expecting for the day and I'm unsure whether I will be striking out all together. I could easily see this as a disaster and  fret about the fact that I've lost a lot of money today. But instead I receive it as God clearing my schedule so we can spend some time together, I confess that the past few days have been spiritually dry as I continue to wonder what God is up to with leading us to a new church home. In this "free" time today the Lord was able to minister to me through the words of Saint Paul in Philippians 3:12-14. Paul talks about "pressing on" to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of him. (Philippians 3:12) The idea Paul is conveying is that of chasing after something and in turn being chased after by the Lord. It is the same Greek word Paul uses in verse 6 in Philippians 3 when he speaks of "persecuting" the church. Paul is in this case, chasing after in a negative sense God's people to apprehend them. But the Lord changes that which Paul is pursuing from something that will bring destruction to something that will bring life. Chasing after the Lord will not bring disappointment in the end. I realized that we are only willing to chase after that which we truly desre, that which we are truly attracted to, that which has the power to draw us in unimaginable ways. Unlike the writer of Ecclesiastes who laments, "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind." (Ecclesiastes 1:14) To chase after the wind is to pursue futility. To try and grasp something you cannot see or hold on to. On the other hand when we chase after Jesus, He reveals Himself to us in various ways and we can hold on to Him through the promises in His word but more important through His Spirit that dwell within us. You can't get any closer to Him than that! It is equally awesome to know that God will pursue us until we accomplish what He has prepared for us in advance to do. (Ephesians 3:20) In commenting on the passage in Philippians, author and speaker Beth Moore states that "What God calls us into will stretch us but we must walk in it." We see with our eyes (the revelation), we press on (stretching to grab it with our hands), and we walk in it. (capturing and being captured by the One who has called us.) So what are you chasing after? My prayer to the Lord as He leads me through this new season of my life is to chase after or pursue what will stretch me to grow, to chase after and pursue what will help His people to grow, but most of all to chase after and pursue that which will bring God glory. May the Lord place me with the people who need the gifts He's given to me. Even if it doesn't look like what I imagine, I know it is for my good and for His glory.
Peace,
Pastor Sheree

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How Big Can You Dream?

At my last meeting with my spiritual director, I was challenged to dream big and commit those desires to God in prayer. As I continue to search for a church home where I can use my gifts of leadership to help God's people, it was pointed out that I tend to limit myself in what I seek and ultimately hinder God's desire to see my full giftedness find its expression among His people. In other words I see myself as settling for second best. In meditating on this point I was drawn to Ephesians 3:20 and another serious focus on the passage. "Now to Him who is able" (God is not crippled or hindered in any way by anyone or anything. He can do what we cannot do) "to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (We ask for so little, He is able to do more than that. We think small and narrow. He thinks high, wide, and deep. We ask with little expectation and dream small. He has dreams for us we can't even conceive. When we ask for a tiny thing, He can pour out His grace and power to overflowing. Our imaginations are limited, stuck in the box. There is nothing He can't imagine---look at the diversity of creation and behold the wonder of your God!) "according to His power that is at work within us" (Because of His power at work within us, we can ask big, we can dream high, wide, and deep. What He can accomplish in and through us is beyond our ability to comprehend because it is His power that accomplishes it. "to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen." (His glory revealed in us (the church) is in the same sentence as the name of Christ Jesus, the revelation of God's glory. God's glory revealed in both the Holy Son of God and the frailty of humanity. It is passed on throughout all generations until He comes again. And when He comes we will see Him as He is because we will be like Him and experience the fullness of our glory. (1 Corinthians 13:12) How big can you dream? He commands us to let our light (the light He's given us through Christ) shine before others that they may see our good works and praise our Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16) It's all about His glory according to His power that is at work within us. Amen!
All Glory to God!
Pastor Sheree