Archive for the ‘rest’ Category

214609040805_0_ALB“Elijah was a human being, even as we are.  He prayed earnestly that it would not rain….” (James 5:17) Wow can I relate to this!  In Elijah’s case it had to do with God bringing both blessing and punishment on Israel for their wacky ways under the leadership of King Ahab.  For me, it has to do with “enough rain already!”  Like Elijah, I know the human frailties of my personality, the bouts of feeling down when the clouds are gray, and the desperation of “God, where are you!”

Last week my wife’s family all came out to New England to spend a wonderful week on a lake in Maine.  And, needless to say, we had these expectations of sunny skies and warm weather.  Instead, we got rain nearly every day and cold temps.  My humanness was very disappointed.  I had expectations and God didn’t deliver on them.  Considering this was the first time that the entire family came from the Midwest to spend a well planned out week- a family reunion…couldn’t God stop the rain and send the sun?  What’s up with that?  After all I do for God as a pastor and as a faithful follower, shouldn’t it just work out the way my wife and I want it to?  [Oh, by the way, to make matters seem a little more discouraging, I ended up in the ER with a Kidney stone midweek.  Fun, huh?]

Actually, realistically, looking back- it was one of the best weeks we have had in a long time.  We still enjoyed the lake, the beautiful lake homes we had rented, and mos of all- we enjoyed one another.  It was a blessing to be together and talk and eat and pray together.  The kids and adults hung out and played and rested and laughed.  There was one very special night when we gathered together to talk about mom, who went to be with the Lord about a year ago.  I have a feeling that she made sure we spent lots of time together last week.  It was what she loved.

We made memories- great memories.  The rain could not damper the love that was in that place all week.

Lots of times when people refer to this Scripture in James 5, they take it from the perspective that even though we are only human, we have this incredible authority to use the name of Jesus to get whatever we want.  “We can pray that the rain stops, and it will,”  is the thought.  Maybe not.  Maybe the real point is that like Elijah, we are human beings who serve a God that knows exactly what it is we really need.  They needed famine back then, because God had to get their attention.  Even Elijah needed the course correction of God out on the mountain when He met with him.

Last week, our family needed each other- rain or shine.  And thank God we received this blessing from Him.

city-walk-rush-hour

Depending on where you are in life, waiting is either an inconvenience or an annoyance.  To me, it’s mostly a waste of time.  I was reading somewhere about how many hours and days and months we wait in lines or are on hold on phone calls.  A few weeks ago, we went to a theme park and I think our kids were permanently cured of wanting to go back- the lines were terrible.  90 minutes for a 60 second ride.  If you put that in dollars it would be like paying $90,000 for something worth $1,000.  What a waste!

Yet, all of us know that there are some things that are really worth waiting for.  Our three children are perfect examples.  In addition to the time leading up to their conception, they had another nine months in the womb and then labor.  We waited and it was well worth it!  Some of you ladies out there may question the waiting involved in the labor pains, but I hear that moms usually forget the pain enough to have more children.  So, if this is true, the waiting and the pain were both worth it.

One of the things that I have been thinking a lot about lately is how God tells us to wait.  Through the prophet Isaiah, He says that when we “wait upon the Lord, we renew our strength.”  I think many of us don’t know how to do this.  There’s no ticket line or hold button with God.  It’s not like someone is on a recording saying “your wait time will be between five and ten minutes.”  I’d like that if there were!  Instead, we are encourage to wait and be renewed with His strength.  It’s in the waiting that there is renewal- not in the fulfillment of the waiting.

Jesus told his disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit to come to them.  This was as He was making his great departure after the resurrection.  He gave them instructions to go into an upper room- a waiting room- and wait.  What must that have been like?  I’m sure they thought, “for how long?”  and “how will we know when it’s time?”   Whatever they thought, they obeyed- they waited and the Holy Spirit showed up in a way that was undeniable.  Each of them recieved a touch of God that they had never expereinced before for this was a personal meeting and filling of God’s spirit into them.  The waiting paid off because God never disappoints.

I wonder if we are more willing to wait for a table at a restaruant than we are willing to wait for God’s Spirit to show up?  Could it be that we get less antsy in a waiting room where our car is being fixed (which is exactly where I am as I write these words on my laptop) than when being still and silent before God?  I need to get better at waiting upon the Lord and waiting in His waiting room.

In this season of difficulty and uncertainty in our nation, followers of Christ can truly become a light to the world by learning the secret of waiting with faith and hope and patience.  This kind of waiting brings no sorrow to it and never disappoints us.  Come Holy Spirit!

-peter

desert-cross

Today I was reading from the book of Luke and was reminded of what it must have been like when Jesus said goodbye to his friends and disciples.  It wasn’t a time that he packed his bags and found a new job in a new city, but a time when life was literally cut short.  Voluntarily, Jesus went to the cross- but that didn’t make it any easier.

There is a particular passage that I caught for perhaps the first time.  It’s when the women are weeping as Jesus passes them by on the way to Calvary.  He looks at them and, with a word of both comfort and challenge, tells them that they should be weeping for the generations to come. It’s as though He is saying, you think it’s bad right now?  There will be a day when the tree (the cross) is not green, but brown- and on that day things will even be worse.

As I have been reflecting on this past year, I can’t help but to notice how things have gone from bad to worse in our country.  Of course, the obvious place to look is the economy, the infighting politically, wartime, and family turmoil.  But that’s not what I mean.  People have become more and more oblivious to the love and grace of God.  They have managed so well at avoiding the most obvious source of all that is good- Jesus himself.

As I reflect, I also think of the church that, in many ways, has become just as oblivious.  We sit around weeping for ourselves, while the world around us has no one to intercede for them.  It’s much easier for us to judge them and live our own “blessed” lives.  At least it has been…but maybe not so much anymore.  In fact, the stuff that is is affecting all of us on the outside may be just the thing we need to shake us up on the inside.

As I reflect, I think of Jesus passing us by as we’re weeping for ourselves, our financial issues and things not going as we wanted them to go.  Maybe we are weeping because we are afraid of what this means for us.  And then Jesus passes by and says- don’t just weep for Me, and don’t just weep for you- but weep and intercede and care for those who have no concept.

As I reflect, I want to go into 2009 with an attitude of intercession, love and hope.  As the government is creating bail-out plans, let’s remember that the greatest bail out ever took place on a cross and that the way is open to anyone who would say yes.  Reflect with me.

-peter

Most people think of heaven as a place they will go when they die. And, though it’s true, it’s much bigger than that according to the Bible. We are given a picture of eternity that is far from floating on the clouds and playing a harp, but a reality that is both exciting and massive.

The book of Revelation gives us the most information about heaven. It talks about those who are currently there in the present heaven (chapter 6) and the future heaven on earth (chapter 21). Listen to the hope: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Currently there is a book that Oprah Winfrey is promoting called “A New Earth.” Unlike the Biblical view of eternity and spirituality, it is filled with self generated mysticism and a “things will get better” here and now mentality. The truth is that things aren’t getting better and without Jesus they won’t. We don’t believe this so that we run and escape the world we live in, but because we have a greater hope that comes through the power of the Resurrection. I know that this world is not my home, but that I’m temporarily living here to fulfill the purpose of God.

The problem we face is that it’s so easy to live here as if it’s all there is. We can become accustomed to the beauty and the joy and the comfort, and lose sight of what is “unseen”. Easy to do actually, to see what’s seen and not what’s unseen. Then when things aren’t going the best- like when it snows again in the Spring, or when someone we love gets sick, or when our bills are overdue- we grow depressed. Instead of looking to heaven, we look back to earth and try to do it all on our own again.

One day those who are followers of the Way (Jesus) will follow Him to their new home where there will be no more sorrow or pain. And what a day that will be. In the meantime, we wait and pray and build relationships that have eternal significance.

-Peter

flowersnow.jpg

Now that our Sabbatical is over, Lisa and I have been walking in a sense of gratefulness for all that the Lord has blessed us with. Mostly…with the people that He has surrounded us with- people to love and to be loved by.

Coming back into the office last week was a treat. There were no piles to get through, not many phone calls to return, and I even had a low level of email. So, I came back thinking- this is the same place I left in January- but this is a New Beginning. Of course, it does help that this is Easter season! You wouldn’t know it here in New Hampshire with all of our snow- but something is happening beneath the surface that can only be described as miraculous. There is new life there….

As wonderful as our time of rest was, we are glad to be back and refreshed for the work ahead of us. I’ve come back realizing that God is in control (and we’re not), that there are so many others to be loved and for us to reach for Him, and that all we have to do is rest in Him as we enter His Kingdom work.

As we reflect on the Resurrection this Easter, let’s also remember that in Christ, all things are new- including the work that He is doing in and through us now!

-Peter

Posted: March 5, 2008 in Blogroll, GCC, Grace Capital Church, rest, Sabbatical, Sermons

presentation1.jpg

I am conflicted. I live in the world of the almost, but not yet. There are some wonderful things- blessings really, from God that I cannot help but to rejoice over every day. My family, my health, the church, the awesome beauty of creation- just to name a few. But I also have found that I can get so enamored with everything that life in this physical body has to offer that I can literally forget that there is much more beyond here.

I think we are reminded of both the temporary nature of this life and the promise of something better whenever someone we love dies. For the believer in Christ, there is something sad because we will miss them- but something that makes us glad, because we know that they’ve only really “passed” onto a truly better place. Reading the blog entry on Pastor Kevin’s sight really puts things in perspective. If you haven’t checked it out- you really should. Andrew Allard went on to be with the Lord one year ago. http://revkevgcc.wordpress.com/

While heaven is certainly a place we are promised by God the Father, it is also an attitude we should begin to live in now. What do I mean by that? I think we are too easily satisfied with the here and now. Surely God desires for us to be blessed and to enjoy the spiritual blessings of provision and healing and joy. But none of these things last here on earth. That’s why we are encouraged to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, where they won’t rust or end. Think for a minute about all of the people who have ever experienced a miraculous healing from God. Think about those who were made whole or even raised from the dead in the Bible. What is the one thing that all of these people have in common? They have died or they will die.

During our Sabbatical we took one of the most wonderful vacation weeks our family ever experienced. I remember getting to the resort and saying, “this place is amazing- it’s like heaven.” That is the problem, friend. We actually don’t believe it gets any better than this. We’ve believed this real powerful lie of the enemy, and have made heaven a second-rate alternative. I think all of us can use a reality check…or what I’d like to call an “eternity check.”

The first series I’m preaching upon my return will be dealing with this whole subject. We’ll look at what Heaven is like and get excited together about what Jesus said about Him going there to “prepare a place for us.” But, we’ll also grow to have a better understanding of the Kingdom of God here and now. We’ll start on Easter Sunday- a real appropriate time to talk about Heaven considering that Jesus is the first one who opened up the gates for all who believe in Him through His resurrection.

There’s a popular song that has these words about heaven- “I can only imagine…” Well, I believe we can all move beyond imagination and begin to live the Eternal Life- in the almost, but not yet- with faith, perseverance, joy and expectation. I’ll see you all on Sunday, March 16th to share some more things the Lord has done in us during this Sabbatical.

-Peter

img_0361.jpgLast Friday I returned from a Foursquare Supervisors trip to Panama. There were 13 of us that experienced some of the most incredible fellowship and brotherhood as we celebrated what God has done through our Foursquare family in this beautiful nation.

Panama was one of the first places that missionaries were sent from Angelus Temple (The Foursquare Church) back in the 1920’s. Since that time we now have over 500 churches throughout Panama. I was blessed to be able to preach in one of those churches while there. The people at the Centro Familia Christian Church responded to the message with much anticipation and expectation. Considering that I hadn’t preached for over 8 weeks (thanks again for the Sabbatical!), I was a little nervous. God put my nerves to rest when the pastor of the church gave a prayer and a word before hand that sounded just like the message that God had given me from Acts 14.Panama helped me realize how much I miss preaching, and how I am so looking forward to being back at GCC.

Another one of the highlights of this trip was a boat trip into an Indian village. About 30 native people live there and all but one of them have committed their lives to Jesus Christ. These people were much more primitive than you can imagine, yet just as loving and on-fire for Jesus as anyone else I know. We followed the tradition of the natives while we were there and all of the Foursquare supervisors got tattoos. You may be surprised that I would do this- but you won’t get to see it because it already washed off (it was henna ink). The photo I included shows all of us with the island chief and a scout going through the rainforest.

There’s so much more that I can say, including the amazing sight of the Panama Canal which we built with the help of the Panamanian people. While there we saw a US Sub go through the intricate lock system of the canal on its way to the Pacific Ocean. That was cool!

Well, our Sabbatical is coming to an end soon and we are getting so excited to see all of you at GCC again. With Easter just around the corner, it should be a fruitful time in the life of our church as many who are seeking purpose and answers in life will find Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life.

-Peter

img_0132.jpgimg_0172.jpg