“Three-Hour Tour”

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Rich Cathers.
We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; (Numbers 11:5)

The Israelites were just a little over a year out from having been delivered from Egypt. During that time, they had seen God miraculously bring judgment on their Egyptian masters. They had seen the Red Sea part. They had seen water gushing out of a Rock in the desert. They had heard God’s voice speak from Mount Sinai. They had eaten manna in the wilderness.
Yet a year of wandering in a desert was getting old for some people. Some of the people were recalling fond memories of those days back in Egypt. They didn’t recall the difficulties of slavery, but oh how they remembered those onions and garlic. And so, they complained. Over and over again we see the Israelites grumbling, griping, and complaining. Their grumbling will result in stretching out their desert wanderings from a few weeks into forty years. It reminds me of Gilligan’s Island and that famous “three-hour tour”.
I know that some of us do not have the fondest of memories from this last year. Yet beloved, let us not forget who God is and the plans He has for us. His plans include a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11). The shortest route through this desert isn’t on the path of complaining or reminiscing. The quickest route is on the road of trusting God. Let Him know how much you appreciate His work in your life. Let’s move forward through this wilderness.

False Assumptions

This Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[Luk 13:2 NIV] 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?

Here Jesus is confronted with one of the great presuppositions of fallen man. Jesus is dealing with this mindset that, “bad things, only happen to bad people.”

While we don’t know much about these two tragedies’ the first seems to involve the murder of a group of Galileans which was made worse by Pilate mocking their deaths mingling their blood with pagan sacrifices. The other event seemed to be a construction accident where a tower collapsed and caused the death of eighteen men (:4).

It seems the people were rejecting Jesus’ warnings about the need for repentance as they assumed wrongfully that because they were free from tragedy, they must be right with God.

Jesus uses the illustration of the construction collapse (:4) to remind them that tomorrow is promised to no one. The implication that the men who died in the ambush were no worse sinners than those who died in the accident. The lesson Jesus wanted them to focus on was not “why” it happened but “how” we respond to it.

While we don’t have control over all the dangerous in our lives our biggest issue is not our mortality but our immortality. Jesus told the crowd in Matt 5:45 – “the rain falls on the just and unjust.” Our job is not to judge our lives based on the false assumption that we are better or worse than others but on the Word of God.

 May the tragedies and struggles of the world around us teach us to treasure the moments, number our days, and guard our hearts and mouths from becoming like Job’s friends.

Prescription for Enemies

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Daniel Grant.

Jesus never ceases to amaze me. As I am reading Luke 6, I see Jesus heal the lowest and the least and offend those who thought they were righteous. I see Jesus give this simple beautiful teaching that is so important for us to follow. Luke 6: 27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” Jesus has a prescription for those that are making themselves your enemy, that is to love them and do good to them. Go out of your way to practically show God’s love for them. I was not universally liked in High School. I had some close friends and some people who hated my guts!! I was having particular difficulty with two guys who despised the very ground I walked on. My dad said “Dan, love them. Heap God’s love on them. Speak kindness to them, it will deflate the hate in their sails. That’s what Jesus would do.” Dad was right and by finding a way to love them as they were excruciatingly mean to me, I won them as some of my closest friends… Follow the way of Jesus, love those that are different, bless those that are mean, find ways to do good to them and for them. Standing with you and Sending HUGE hugs,

Daniel

“Overcoming Life’s Pressures”

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Franklin Garcia.

Jesus and the disciples went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” … Then He returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” He said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:32-38

The garden of Gethsemane was in the Mount of Olives and means “oil press or place where olive is pressed”. This was the place where Jesus and Peter were going to be tested.

The suffering and death on the cross were near. Jesus prayed again and again to remain faithful to the will of God. Peter on the other hand, had not been able to stay awake for even an hour. He relied on his own strength. He was not able to pass the test. He fled to safety and set aside his loyalty to God. On the other hand, Jesus stood firm and faithful to God’s plan.

The trials of this life are inevitable, and we are going to feel the pressure when they come. If we want to remain faithful to God’s will and sovereignty for our lives, we need to remain alert in prayer so that we don’t rely on our own strength but instead in the Spirit. By doing this we will be able to follow Jesus’ example of obedience and faithfulness to God.

“Misunderstanding”

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Rich Cathers.

… Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? (Mark 8:17)

In Mark 8, we have a common theme running through the chapter:  Misunderstanding.  It seems that the disciples were often misunderstanding what Jesus was saying or doing.  When He warned them about the teaching of the Pharisees (v.15), they thought He was saying something about bread.  Later, Jesus’ healing of a blind man would be an illustration of how the disciples didn’t quite get things right the first time.  The first time Jesus touched the blind man, he didn’t “see” things clearly.  It took a “second touch” before he could see right (v.25). When Jesus asked the disciples who they thought He was, Peter did get the correct answer, “You are the Christ” (v.29).  Yet soon afterwards Peter is rebuking Jesus for saying that He was going to be crucified (v.32).  Wrong! Jesus corrected Peter’s theology and said that everyone who follows Jesus needs to learn to take up their cross.

It’s not a bad idea to check with others when you are wondering what God is trying to do or say.  It’s not necessarily the end of the world if we misunderstand Jesus the first time.  We are after all just human like the disciples.  Yet it is foolish to think that we don’t need others to challenge our incorrect thinking from time to time.  Stay connected with others.  Share your ideas.  Be open to correction.

“I Promise”

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[Exo 6:9 NIV] 9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.

Chapter six begins with this amazing list of promises. God is responding to Moses’ concern over Pharaoh increasing the burden on the Israelites. “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh”, “I appeared,” “I established,” “I have heard,” “I have remembered,” “I will bring you out,” “I will free you,” “I will redeem you,” “I will take you as my own,” “I will be your God,” “I will bring you to the land,” “I will give it to you as a possession.”

This is one of the great lists of the lengths that God will go for His people. Over and over, we see what God has done, and what He promises He will do. One cannot imagine hearing this list and not being encouraged!

However, verse nine says that the people would not listen because they were discouraged. The current challenges they were facing drowned out the promises of God.

Can you relate to this? Is the overwhelming frustration of COVID, elections, finances, and family keeping you from hearing Him?

First take a moment to look back at what God has already done for you. Now look at what God is telling you He has done for you right now. Last look at what God is promising He will do!

What is amazing is that in spite of their unbelief God still delivered on His promises! Our faith won’t keep us from difficulty, but it will help get us through it! Hold fast to God’s Word! He will deliver on His promises!

“Render to God the Things That are God’s”

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Daniel Grant.

It never ceases to amaze me that the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus. This was the man who walked on water, fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes. The man whose command the demons shuddered and obeyed. The man who reversed death at a rebuke, who could command the wind and the waves. They decided to try and trick Jesus and catch him between God’s law and the law of Rome… “Jesus, should we pay the {evil overlord, emperor} Caesar – a tax or not? Matt 22:21b-22 “…And He said to them, “Rendertherefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.” Jesus tells them to pay their taxes, but to render to God what belongs to Him. And what has the stamped image of God on it? You do, I do, we do!!!

Should we pay our taxes? Yes, we should. Should we obey the laws of the country, yes as far as they do not command us to disobey God’s law. Should we offer to God our whole body, whole-self and all that we are as an act of worship to the one true God! YES, and amen, that beloveds will bring you and I the peace that we need!! Sending Digital hugs,

Daniel

“Facing Our Wrongdoings”

This weeks Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Franklin Garcia.

Genesis 29:25-28 “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?” Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.” And Jacob did so…”

Often, we want to hide and forget about wrongdoings to others. This is the case with Jacob who escaped to a distant land after he usurped the oldest brother’s inheritance by deceiving his father.

Things started to go well for Jacob, so much so that the deception to his father was a thing of the past. Jacob fell in love and worked seven years to marry Rachel, but great was his surprise when he realized that he was deceived. Laban’s words; “We don’t do something for the youngest one before the oldest one” reminded Jacob of what he did to his father.

There was an area of sin in Jacob’s life that needed to be dealt with, before he experienced God’s blessings. God used this difficult episode in Jacob’s life to confront him with his sin against his father.

Like Jacob, God will use difficult situations to confront us with hidden sins. The recognition of our sins should lead us to repent, so the broken areas of our lives can be fixed. Facing our wrongdoings will lead us to God’s blessings.

“Surviving the Storm”

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Rich Cathers.

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. (Matthew 7:24–25)

Some folks think that following Jesus is all about avoiding trouble in life.  They think that if they are right with God that they will no longer have any difficulties.  And then things go downhill.

My friends, nobody escapes the storms of life.  In Jesus’ story, there were two builders who both faced storms. Only one survived. The real question we need to be asking is not how we avoid the storms, but how we survive them.

Maybe a relationship is falling apart.  Maybe you’ve lost your job or are facing financial difficulty. Maybe it’s illness or the threat of illness.  Maybe the political process hasn’t worked to your liking or you are simply afraid of the future for our nation.  These are just some of the “storms” we are facing.

So how do you survive?  You pay attention to God’s Word and you do it.  If you’re not sure what that looks like, try reading what Jesus spoke in Matthew 5-7.  Get serious about reading your Bible every day.  And learn how to do what it says.  Look to Jesus.

“His Divine Plan”

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[Mat 1:22 NKJV] 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:

Joseph’s life seemed to be falling apart. His soon to be wife is pregnant and he is not the father. A Roman census is soon going to require him and his expectant fiancé to cross treacherous terrain to an unfamiliar city. A wicked and crazy king will ultimately seek to kill his newborn son. Joseph seems like an unlikely hero during this dysfunctional time.

A few things give me comfort as I look at this chapter. First- God is in control. Amidst the dictates of an imperial regime, God was using this inconvenience to get Joseph and Mary right where He wanted them. How much less stress would we all have if we could see things from God’s perspective.

Second, God specifically intervenes in the most difficult moment to encourage Joseph. As Joseph struggled to process the news from Mary, an angel is sent to confirm God’s hand in the whole process. When faced with a crossroads with eternal consequences, just like Joseph, we are not alone.

Lastly what was it that uniquely qualified Joseph to play such an important role in this History-altering story? Verse 19 tells us he was a “just” man or “faithful” man. He was a man that loved and obeyed God. This characteristic equipped him to fulfill His part in God’s perfect plan.

As we begin 2021 Let’s remember that God is working out His divine plan. That He has given us His Word to guide our steps. That He is looking for faithful men and women who love Him, and will be faithful with what He entrusts to us.