Message From Matt | July 27, 2018

Impacted by 10 year olds! 
I met a couple of kids this past week while on our church mission trip to Oaxaca, Mexico that really impacted me!  Both are 10 year old boys named Chi and David.  Chi asked me to pray with him because his father has been missing for 4 months.  Back on March 25th his father went to work that morning and called home that evening to say that he was going to stay overnight with a friend in the city because he had to be at work early the next day.  He said that he would be home that next night but he never showed up and the family doesn’t know if he is dead or alive.  The mom now has the burden to provide for 2 children that live at home and prays everyday that her husband is alive and will return home.  
David lives in the same mountain village as Chi and sells corn in a nearby town to help his family financially.  I consider his home life to be atrocious as he is often  abused and easily becomes aggressive with other children. Lately he has been cutting himself.  Veronica, Pastor Edmundo’s wife, approached David on the first day of VBS after he was being aggressive with some other kids and as she pulled him close to hug him and ask him why he was starting fights, he pulled back and said “ Don’t touch me”!  He said “When they hug me, they hurt me”.  Immediately, Veronica had tears well up and got Edmundo to figure out the best way to help him.  
Unfortunately, these two boys are not the only ones affected by these types of circumstances in their mountain village.   There are many that are affected in similar ways and yet looking at most of these kids, you can never tell that they live in bad conditions!  Most seem very happy!  Even though these kids had very few material things, especially compared to us, most seemed very happy.  The kids were happy to play “tag” or “duck, duck, goose”, to get candy, and to sing and dance to songs about Jesus!   Most everyone had fun!  Most everyone was happy!  I was impacted by their happiness! Thankfully, Chi asked God to forgive him and to save him which made all of us happy and David, who had already accepted Christ, actually got a microphone on the last day and “preached” for 20 minutes on forgiveness, honoring your parents and following Jesus!  I was impacted by David’s forgiveness!

Why were Chi and the other kids happy?  

Maybe it’s because they don’t know any better and aren’t aware of what we have in America and what they are missing out on.  Maybe they were excited for the American visitors to be there with them. Maybe they live life the best way they know how and are excited for any event that gets them out of their normal routine.  No matter what the reason is, these kids were happy.  Even though their circumstances weren’t the greatest, they still enjoyed every moment of the VBS!  Chi, even with the pain of missing his dad, was running around like a happy kid!   

Why was David forgiving?

When David got on the microphone and began speaking, all the kids stopped what they were doing and listened…for 20 minutes!  As he spoke he had tears in his eyes and and Cynthia, our translator, was crying while telling me what he was saying!  I was blown away when David said that Jesus loves us all and that He forgives us of our sins.  Since Jesus loves us and forgives us, we should forgive those who hurt and wrong us as well…even if it is our parents.  He went on to say that all of them needed to honor their father and mother because that is what the Bible says to do, not because they deserve it.  As I was listening to this, I couldn’t believe that it was coming from a 10 year old.  He was the best preacher that I heard all week as his message was full of truth and passion.  David forgave because Christ forgave him!  David forgave because the Bible states that we should forgive! 

So I have to ask, “Are you Happy? Are you forgiving?”

I hope that you are!  Actually, I hope that you are filled with the joy, peace, happiness, love and all the blessings that God gives to all of His children, but maybe you are not happy right now!  Maybe you are not feeling the joy of the Lord, which is different than happiness!  In fact, you might not feel the joy of the Lord in your life at all as many things have made you feel discouraged or depressed!  If that is you, I want you to be encouraged today!  I want you to remember that you have been given everything from a God that loves you so much that He promised to always be with you and to never leave you!   He has forgiven you of your sins and made you clean!  He has replaced your sadness with gladness!  He has given you hope and an eternal future with Him to look forward to!  He has been there for you in the worst times and during the best times!  He is good!  He is great!  Rejoice today that you have a God that can make “beauty from ashes”!

Be happy today!  Be forgiving today!

Message From Scott | July 20, 2018

In one of his books, George Barna, a leading church growth consultant, tells about two men in their mid-thirties who find themselves one Sunday morning on a country club golf course. He describes them as “born-again Christians who have eliminated church life from their busy schedules.” Instead of attending church, they worship, as they put it, at the “Church on the Green.”
According to Barna, within the next several years more and more people will follow the lead of those Sunday-morning golfers and opt out of church attendance. A recent church periodical stated that “from high school graduation to age 25, there is a 42 percent drop in weekly church attendance.”

Whatever the reason, eliminating public worship from our lives will prove to be a great loss. All throughout history, whether at an altar, in a synagogue, in the temple, or in their own homes, God’s people gathered together to worship the Lord.

God himself calls us to worship. Our busy lives demand it. The church is called to provide opportunities for people to come together to praise God, be renewed, and be challenged to live out their faith in everyday living. Taking the time to worship benefits our marriages, strengthens our families, and empowers all our relationships.

Psalm 100                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Worship is not complicated. It’s not a list of things that we need to do or places we need to go. It’s as simple as turning our thoughts to God.   In Psalm 100, David is simply reciting facts about God and these facts lead to wonder. It should fill our hearts with joy! We are to make a joyful NOISE because of who God is! As a Christian we have many things to make a joyful noise about.  Take a moment today and think about God’s goodness to you. Think about Jesus hanging on the cross for you. Think about all the mighty things He has done in your life.  When you begin thinking about these things you won’t be able to contain it and you will begin worshipping God! Make a joyful noise unto the Lord…worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with singing. Lift your praise to the one who is worthy of all praise. Make sure worship is on your agenda today!

Message From Matt | July 12, 2018

The Love of our Heavenly Father!

This past Sunday I read from Luke Chapter 15, Jesus’ parable about the prodigal son and his older brother.   I spoke about the brokenness in the lost son after he spent everything and realized that he needed to come back to the father.  We also read that the older son had a need for brokenness but couldn’t see it.  He was prideful and critical and not focusing on the bigger picture…his brother came home!   Instead of being happy he was angry with the father!  He always worked hard and did everything the father told him to do but never had a party thrown for him!  He never got the attention that he thought he deserved!   

This story is a great picture of two types of people that need to be broken.  The first type is the one that commits obvious sins!   The younger son couldn’t pretend that he was living right as his sin was blatant, rebellious, and disgusting.  However, I suggest that the older son’s sin was just as rebellious and blatant and disgusting!  The older son represents the second type of person that needs to be broken, the person that is blinded by their pride regarding how sinful they really are.  This type of person lives their life feeling like they have no problems and often times look down on others with arrogance.

Both of these boys had sin in their lives and both needed to be broken!  

Although the stories of the boy’s lives are often the ones that are focused on the most, I can’t help but think that it is the love of the Father that is the best part! 

Look at what the Father did for His boys:

  • He was patient! The younger son wanted his inheritance early.  The father didn’t have to give it to him, but he did.  The younger son ran off and the father could have tracked him down, but he didn’t.  Instead, the parable says that the father waited (verse 20) for the son to return!  He could have done several things to reach the son, but he was patient!  I think that this is how we as parents need to be as well, especially with our teenage and adult children…patient!  The reality is that I can discipline to change behavior but I can’t change hearts.  It is God alone doing His work that can bring about lasting change.  
  • He was proactive! I love how the father in this parable handled his two sons differently!  With the younger son he was patient but with the older son he was proactive.  When the older son would not come to the party, the father came to him (verse 28). The father treated the son’s sin differently and was perfect in his handling of them.  He could have waited for the older son to come in, but I believe that he knew this son’s pride would get in the way of that.  
  • He was forgiving!  The father had the right to make the younger son a slave or disown him completely.  He didn’t do either!  He could have been angry with the older son for being a “party pooper” but he wasn’t!  His love was marked by his forgiveness as he focused on what was most important in their lives.  He wanted to restore the younger son and teach the older son what forgiveness was.  Many times we can let our hurt feelings and unmet expectations ruin our relationships, but this father determined to forgive instead!
  • He was loving!  When you read this parable there is no doubt that the father loved his boys!  No matter what their actions were, or what they did, they did not lose the love of the father!  They were his boys and nothing was going to change that.  He loved them from birth and nothing was going to break that love!
This father’s actions are a picture of our Heavenly Father and we know that as His children we can never be separated from His love.  Paul wrote in Romans 8:37-39“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Because of the Father and sacrifice of the Son, we are more than conquerors and nothing (or nobody) can separate us from His love!  Once you are a child of God, you are always a child of God!  Do we deserve this love?  NO!  Should we be thankful every day for His love? YES!  To go along with thankfulness to God, we should also demonstrate His love to others!  If you have a child not living right…be patient!  If you have someone at work that you need to go to and show love to…be proactive!  If you have been offended…forgive!  If you get down, remember how God loves you and show that love towards others!  

God loves us greatly…show that love to others!

See you Sunday!