Right On Time

I love love love to rush things.   I love to have things on my timing.  I get impatient. I get restless.   Sometimes I turn into a big brat while waiting on the Lord and his answer.  But I’m here today to tell you that He is right on time every time.  His timing is perfect.  If we stopped trying to control things and think of every scenario while waiting,  we would use our time waiting differently. We would worship and thank God for just hearing us.  We could tell the testimony of God’s goodness.  We could encourage a brother or sister in their own storm rather than be stuck pouting in our own.  When we wait and we pray, worship, and just let go while we wait it doesn’t even matter if His answer is no or His plan is different.  What matters is our God, king over it all, took the time to think about a spec, on a planet, in a small galaxy in the corner of the universe. Things are much bigger than you and me.  But God takes His time and plans us out and has a will for us.   That’s amazing. So, worship while you wait because I consider it a privilege to wait on the Lord.

Our Wonderful Counselor

Isaiah 9:6 For a child is born to us a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
We often hear this scripture at Christmas time when we talk about the Christ child and him coming to earth in the form of a baby. But I was reflecting on another pastor’s corner that I had written about a year ago and this scripture came to mind. Specifically, the words Wonderful Counselor came into my thought process as I was reflecting on the process that I engage in every day with others. I counsel others in various ways and sometimes they engage with me and say things like “Amanda that was good advice” or “Amanda I will take what you said into consideration” and some may even be like “Amanda I never thought of things in that light”. But when I think about this term Wonderful Counselor from our scripture I am truly amazed at this term. I know that when you and I come to the Lord we can take what HE says to the bank and cash it every time. We don’t have to think of it as just good advice. What the Lord provides for us in his Word is bread and life. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” John 6:35. The counsel that we receive from him as Wonderful Counselor is infinitely more important than anything I could ever say to anyone. We should seek his counsel regularly. Knowing him as my Wonderful Counselor allows me to be able to give the counsel that I give daily. I am grateful for the Christ child that came as my Wonderful Counselor not just at Christmas but every day.

Emotions: the battle

Have you ever been stuck in traffic? Of course, you have. It is one of the constants of modern life. When you are running late or need to get something done, all of a sudden it happens to you, the traffic jam. Most days I deal pretty well with being stuck in traffic, after all, it is a constant of modern life. But there are some days that it really does get to me. And once it gets to me, it just doesn’t let go. We all know there really is just one thing you can do when you are stuck in traffic and that is to relax and just deal with it. Send that text that says “Stuck in TRAFFIC again, going to be late.” and then find a way to use the time. Now traffic is bad, but it isn’t really what I want to talk to you about. I used it as an example because it can bring out the two emotions that I do want to talk about, anger and frustration. These two seem to go together and they are a handful to deal with. These two often knock at our heart’s door when we are in the middle of a situation that is out of our control.   Someone did something, said something, broke something and we have to deal with the results. And once we open the door to these two horrible house guests they won’t go quickly or easily.  So how do we deal with anger and frustration Overcoming anger and frustration is a lifetime struggle, but it is a battle we can win.  Here is what I have found to work best. First and foremost is don’t open the door to these guys.  I can hear you thinking, that’s easier said than done, and of course, you are right it is easier to say than to do.  But in my experience, the best things are rarely the easiest and just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you can’t do it.  In fact, you don’t have to do it by yourself.  Galatians 5:22-23 tells us“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  Peace and forbearance are the antitheses of anger and frustration, and they are part of the character of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. God’s Holy Spirit in you is your first and best defense against anger and frustration.  When these two knock at your door let The Holy Spirit answer it.  This takes awareness, faith, and preparation.  Moments when we are tempted to react with anger and feel frustration are one of the reasons why we pray daily.  We deal with more than we need to because we neglect our time with God in prayer.
Are you dealing with more than your fair share of anger and frustration?  The first step to dealing with your anger and frustration is to set a daily time with God in prayer.

Think on these things

What do you do when your mind is swimming with the good, the bad, and especially the ugly, and you try so hard to accomplish Philippians 4:8  “…. If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” but those other thoughts, the ones you are trying to avoid, are still filtering through any crack or crevice that they can, like every 10 seconds!?  I wish there was a switch I could flip, but God seems to want me to work and to keep at the “thinking on these things” part.  I do know one thing I can do that always seems to lead to more peace and more joy, and that is to do something nice for someone.  Send a card or a thinking of you text, take someone to lunch, listen to someone who is sick or grieving, something tangible that will elicit a smile from someone.  It used to be called a “random act of kindness.”  I believe that whenever you participate in those kinds of acts, it lifts your spirit.  Remember Matthew 25:40 “ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of these least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  The God kind of life is very practical.  “Life does not need to be perfect to be wonderful!”

Don’t Give up

How Many times have we as children of God, questioned His very presence during a time of chaos and uncertainty in our lives? We ask, “Lord, where are you?” Why is this happening? Then we take a deep breath and remember the song that David sang in (Psalms 145:18) “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on Him in truth.” All who are followers of God need to remember, He is near. He is present and He will never leave His people. This is an amazing truth that we as children of God must hold onto, especially in our troubled times.

The author of Hebrews reminds us of a resounding truth that all of God’s people should never forget in (Hebrews 13:5) “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have for he has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  It is so easy to get caught up in worry and start losing trust that the Lord provides. However, God will never leave us hanging. He will always be there and is as close as the mention of His name.

Remember Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, (Matthew 6:33) “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Remember God will never forsake you. He may not do what you want when you want it, but He will never leave you. He will always be here, and He will always provide for your needs.

The Reason for the Season

I’m sure we all remember from Sunday school the verse John 3:16, “For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

On December 25 each year we celebrate and remember that love that was given to us unconditionally. Can you imagine the love God has for us, He gave to us wrapped in flesh on this day which we celebrate every year. I know that this year has been tough, for some to the point where we feel we cannot handle it, however; God has always been there with us through it all and that is why we need to take time to reflect on what he did for us.

Jesus Christ is definitely the Reason for every Season in our lives!

While we take focused time and special care during the Christmas season, Jesus should be celebrated all year round. Remember to take time this Christmas, to not rush to the pretty presents under the tree or keeping your thoughts on all the yummy food through the holiday, but I ask that you spend some time to cherish what God sent his son to do for you and me.

I pray you and your family have a wonderful Merry Christmas! Be blessed and stay safe.

Merry Christmas,
Pastor Mason

The Baby

GOD BROKE INTO OUR REALM OF HUMANKIND – AS A BABY! He had to be part of us, part of the human experience, in order to conquer the enemy, to be without sin, without blemish, and pleasing to the Father, to defeat the enemy, pay our ransom, and give us the opportunity at freedom in Christ. All those things came in the form of a baby!   Not quite what was expected by the disciples, nor the Jews that were waiting for the Messiah, but the way God chose.   Are you waiting for a long-awaited answer to a prayer?   Do you wonder how in the world you have arrived at a destination that you were not expecting?   Maybe you are exactly where God has led you.  The words to an old song “I can’t see how You’re leading me unless You’ve led me here, where I’m lost enough to let myself be led.”    Don’t fret.  Don’t be anxious.  Don’t lose hope.  Don’t fear.  Don’t doubt.  Keep on doing what you know to do and believe the Lord that He knows best for you – (believe = trust in, rely on, and adhere to).   Romans 8:28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  You can imagine that the disciples thought ALL WAS LOST at the cross.  Like them, we may have forgotten to trust and to relax when things don’t go as planned.  Proverbs 3:5 “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.”  Soon, we get to celebrate Jesus coming as a baby (unexpected) and THANK HIM FOR BECOMING THE SAVIOR AND REDEEMER – Emanuel with us (as promised!)

What is your aftermath?

Have you ever considered your “aftermath”? I know, that sounds crazy, right? Or does it? Aftermath is generally defined as the “results that follow.” So, what results typically follow you? I have heard it called your “wake” before also. It can be related that way as well as the impact your vessel is making in the waters that you are navigating. Either way, you make an impact. While there are varying degrees of such impact, we impact all the same. We are to be salt and light in this broken world. According to God’s Word, we are to live in a way that is cheerful always, praying and worshipping without ceasing and living in the frame of mind and reference that is thankful in the midst of it all. During 2020, it seems that one of the first things that were attacked in the church was our cheerfulness, which impacts relationships and makes us hypercritical. Sure, we have diminished in some senses due to all the restrictions and depressive feelings that COVID-19 and governmental restrictions and isolation has brought us, but the Word must be at our centermost core. I have read reports of church splits in various parts of the USA, pastors quitting, ministers leaving, believers quitting church, changing churches and so much more as the strain of things has overwhelmed so many. We must not allow the “stuff” and minutia of this life to get us to a place where our aftermath and our wake becomes a devastating one. Jesus warned us of the cares of life that would cause us to be weighed down, in Luke 21:34“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down withcarousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.” Our hearts being weighed down with cares is on par with the other things that Jesus in mentioning. Then he says, in Luke 21:36, the same passage that we are to “Watch therefore, and pray always.” We must heed the Words of our Lord in both the warning and the solution. So many are watching how we are in these times, my prayer is they see in real-time, social media, and in all aspects of our lives, the goodness, and reality of Jesus Christ our Lord. As we approach December 2020 – stay steadfast and firmly planted on Jesus, His Word, and be careful of what your aftermath and your wake leaves behind you. There is no such thing as not having an aftermath, we all have one. We choose the kind we leave.

We love you all!
Pastor Mac

Connecting with God

I think we can all agree that prayer is an important part of our relationship with God.  When you think of prayer, what comes to mind? When you pray, what is it that you want from God? What requests dominate your life of prayer?

True prayer happens at the intersection of surrender and celebration. Prayer is profoundly more than handing a wish list to God and letting him know that you’re thankful that he exists and has the power to deliver. This kind of prayer puts you at the center and, in a real way, reduces God down to the divine waiter. This reduction looks to God as the sugar daddy or genie in the sky, rather than a real divine relationship in one’s life.  If your wish list is all you are accomplishing in your prayer time then it’s not him that you want during this time. It’s not his wisdom that you see yourself as needing. It’s not his grace that your heart craves. Wish-list prayer essentially says, “I know what’s best for my life and I’d appreciate it, God, if you would use your might to make it happen.”

You pray like this when you forget that God, as Creator and Savior, knows infinitely more than you do about what you really need. But even more than that, this kind of prayer makes life all about your wants, your needs, and your feelings. This is not really prayer after all. I must admit that I have found myself in this place on more than one occasion.  

But do not fret if you find yourself here too.  There is hope to turn your prayer life around.  In true prayer, you surrender your claim on your life to the greater and wiser plans and purposes of God. You submit your will to his will. It’s not God signing your list, it’s you surrendering your life to him.

When we can accomplish this aspect of prayer, then prayer is a celebration. In prayer, you bask in the wonder of what it means that you actually do have a heavenly Father. You find joy in the reality that he has chosen to give you his kingdom. You are blown away by the fact that he unleashes his almighty power to meet your needs. You celebrate forgiving, rescuing, transforming, enabling, and delivering grace. You find joy in your inclusion in his work of redemption. You find hope in the glorious future that is to come. You are amazed by the fact that because Immanuel has invaded your life by his grace, you are never, ever alone. You find peace in the fact that grace means you are never left to the small resources of your own wisdom, righteousness, and strength. You meditate on God’s glory and goodness, then celebrate. You rejoice in the fact that you no longer have to look for life in the people, situations, and locations around you, but you’ve been given life—life that is eternal.

Does true prayer include making requests of God? Sure, it does. God encourages us to cast our cares on him because he really does care for us. But the requests of true prayer are always in the context of surrender and celebration. It is surrender and celebration that keep those requests from being selfish demands or bitter complaints. This kind of prayer is a tool of God’s grace in your life. As you put God in his proper place and celebrate your place as his child, prayer becomes a tool God uses to free you from your bondage to you and to the temporary of this world. I want to encourage you in this upcoming season to make prayer a journey more about celebration and surrender.  I invite you to take the space that you use for your want list and reflect on how wonderful our Heavenly Father is and see if your total life doesn’t change as a result.  My prayer for you is that you would discover and be able to understand “how long, how wide, how deep, and how high God’s love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves” (Ephesians 3:19).  

Prayers & Blessings, 
Rev Amanda 

Fear is Strange

Fear is a strange and wonderful thing.  Fear of being run over by a car that reminds you to look both ways before you cross a busy street is a good thing.  Fear of being run over by a car that keeps you from walking out of your front door is a bad thing.  I get very nervous when I hear someone say “I’m not afraid of anything.”  In my mind that is just as unhealthy as someone who is afraid of everything.  I don’t always acknowledge my fears, but believe me, they exist.  And at the risk of losing a little of my manly facade, I will share a few with you.  I am afraid of losing my family, my job, of getting hit by a car on a bike ride (already happened once), I am afraid of making a fool of myself every time I speak in front of a group of people, I am afraid of losing my temper and saying the wrong thing, I am afraid of disappointing the people that rely on me, and the list goes on and on.  I don’t know if your list of fears is bigger or smaller than mine but I’m pretty sure that you have one.  So what do we do to keep our fears from overtaking us?  How do we keep our fears controlled so they help us prepare or warn us of situations that could be harmful to us? 

 It is through the perspective of controlling fear, not removing it, that I like to think of II Timothy 1:7.  God recognizes that we live with fears and to keep our fears from overwhelming us He has put in our hands the spirit of power, the spirit of love, and the spirit of a sound mind.   Power so that when we aren’t strong enough to overcome our fears we can rely on someone who is.  Love because nothing makes you feel more alone than being afraid.  And in those moments it is His love that brings us hope.  A sound mind because fear can take away our ability to make good choices, and when fear grips us we can turn to God and His word for guidance.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
II Timothy 1:7 NKJV