(This post is from my weekly Pastor’s Page in my church bulletin – Next week will see the completion of this first part)Feature-water2LG

I’ve read in the local paper that the IID (local utility company) is thinking of rationing water to the farmers in the valley.  An action that would undoubtedly affect both, you and me as residents of the valley.

This reminds me of another story.  Two years ago I heard about a man that fills water station in the desert between the Imperial Valley and San Diego.  The purpose of these water station are not for overheating cars or the occasional animal.  Instead these water stations were set up specifically for people walking through the desert in order to come to this country in hopes of a better future.

The big debate that has taken place as a result of these ‘water stations’ is one side arguing that these water stations help to promote illegal entry into this county.  The other side, though not disagreeing with that premise, propose that though they may not be taking the appropriate steps to enter legally into the US their lives are still of infinite importance and for some of them access to the water in these water stations may save their lives.

Who is right?  Both are right and both are wrong.  The deeper issue at hand is to whom do you pledge allegiance to?  If to the law of a particular country what happens when that law makes you oppose the way of God.  And if your allegiance is to God, what happens when you faith to God is called into question by a law of the land you live?

What then?  Make sure to check back here next week to see what the biblical narrative has to say on a topic like this.

(This is from the weekly pastor’s page in our church bulletin)

What does God require of us?

In a conversation with his disciples Jesus says, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me;  and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;  and whoever does not  take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me;  Those who find their life will lost it, and those who lose their life will find it.” (Matthew 10:37).

That sounds harsh, doesn’t it?  It is important to note that Jesus was trying to make a powerful point.  First of all Jesus, does not want you to hate your parents or children.  That is obvious.  But He needed to make a strong point.  That point being that following Him(Jesus) would not always be easy and that it would sometimes cause us to sacrifice – Sacrifice the very things that makes us who we are and the comforts of this life.  This is evident because Jesus says, “take up the cross” for Jesus the cross was the ultimate act of sacrifice.  He wanted us to live our lives as a living sacrifice, always serving others. That is what it means to take up your cross.

Sacrifice is not just about dying a physical death.  Sacrifice is about putting to death selfishness.  Jesus was selfless, which is the opposite of selfish.  Jesus kept emptying himself daily of anything he felt was owed to him.  He lived his life as though it was a gift.  Perhaps that is how we must strive to live our lives.  As a gift from God, and as a gift to other.   Life is where we get to show the world that God is alive and moving in this world.  We are after all the Body of Christ.

The New Year is finally here, so let’s party like it is 2009.

As I write this, today, still feels like another Thursday in a long line of Thursdays, followed by a Friday and preceded by a Wednesday – So ordinary.  Which makes me wonder if anything will be different in 2009.  Will something amazing happen, something life changing? One thing is certain, life is what you make of it.  My prayer for you in this New Year is that you would experience life in such a way that you can sit back every day and say to yourself, “Life is good!”  I pray that you would have a deeper experience of faith and that you might even get a glimpse of the presence of God.

In the Bible mountain tops were considered the places where people met God.  Over time the phrase, “mountain top experience” has been used to describe the experience one has when they are encountered by God.  With this understanding in mind, David asks, “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place?”  David then answers his own question.  “Those who have clean hands and a pure heart, who do not put their trust in an idol or swear by a false God.”

Where have you placed your trust?   Do you trust God?  Do you trust Jesus?  Do you trust the Holy Spirit?  These questions are much more difficult to answer than they appear. Trusting means letting go of past letdowns, broken promises, painful experiences and as difficult as that is to do, letting go is the only way to really live.  I pray that you would give God a chance this year.  Let go of things, and grasp onto God.

(From my weekly Pastor’s Page written for my community of faith)
As this year draws to a close, the experiences of the last twelve months are nothing more than a silent echo in the halls of distant memories.  Most of us will go through the year-end ritual of pausing long enough to,

reflect,
recollect,
remember and even
regret…

the things we did and said…the things we didn’t do and didn’t say.  And now, we shed the stale year now past and embrace the possibilities that the coming year promises.  Some of you might even dare to set resolutions with hopes that next year will be better than the last.

My prayer for you in the coming year is that you would center yourself around “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise…”  (Philippians 4v8).

Focus on the things that feed your soul and nourish your spirit.  Learn to love well.  Forgive much.

May faith guide you every step of the way.  May hope be in plenty supply and may the love of God be abundant.

I am a believer in film.  Let me explain.  I’ve always loved watching films.  Good ones, bad ones – you name it I love them all.  I am convinced that what I really like about films is the story they tell and the visual representation of it.  A week ago some friends and I stumbled into the theater and watched “The Day the Earth Stood Still”.  I hadn’t seen any previews but hoped it wouldn’t be a complete waste of time.  It turns out that after getting pasted the main premise (which I won’t give away) – the film was actually quite good, and I will tell you why.  Day_the_earth_stood_still

The film had many Christological(things about Jesus) allusion’s in it.  That is only if you wanted to see them.  Any time I see something that alludes to, mentions, or ever slightly resembles Christological language I love it.  It’s my story.  So, after the film as we talked about some of the themes in the film I thought it would be a good idea to invite the church to come out and watch this film and then we could discuss it.  It sounds like a good idea, except that I come from a community of faith(Seventh-day Adventist) that has for many many years discouraged going to the theater.  It’s one of those things most people do but no one talks about it.  We announced it at our Saturday morning gathering and it turns out that we had 24 people join us.  That was more than I was expecting. What struck me the most was that we had people ranging from ages 11-60’s.  Our discussion afterwards was great too.  We helped make connections between the film and the Biblical Narrative.  Watching a movie broke down barriers and helped us connect on a deeper level.  People of all ages.  Like I said, I am a believer in films because people will watch a film and come away with a story they relate to.  But there aren’t very many people who will willing come to church and listen to a sermon.  It might be too preachy.  Lesson to those who hear.

I could write more about the film itself but you should watch it and see what you think.

Below I have posted a short excerpt  from a poem I came across while reaSunraysding, “Let Your Life Speak”.  It is powerful on it’s own.  There is no need for commentary or explanation and I am certain it will speak to  each of you in different ways.

“No I become myself.  It’s take time, many years and places. I have been dissolved and shaken.  Worn other people’s faces…”

(The poem was written by May Sarton and is titled “Now I Become Myself”)