Archive for the ‘Sabbatical’ Category

It’s been about a month now. My mother-in-law fought a grueling battle with cancer; all the way to her last breath. She left this life with faith, hope and love- especially love. It was a difficult thing to say goodbye. I had the chance to see her just a few days before she passed from this life to eternal life. Although her body was ailing, her heart was strong, her sense of humor intact and her eyes bright. Mom (really more of a mom than I can imagine) didn’t really want to go yet. Who does? She wanted to see her grandchildren grow up and be involved in the earthly experiences that are a real blessing of God. But it was her time and not one of us doubted that.

There is something much different about grieving the death of one who has such a strong relationship with the Lord. God says that the death of those who are faithful is precious to Him (Psalm 116:15). Unfortunately, this is not the common way of thinking in the church today. We look at death as a second rate alternative to living here on earth. We forget that we are just “strangers passing through”. We have lost sight of eternity and play to the temporary nature. Some segments of the church preach that unless we get all 85 years that we’re missing out on God’s best for us. What’s up with that? So we go to heaven earlier than others- that sounds like more of a blessing than a slight.

So our grief, although real and painful, is also hopeful. Our family has cried and worshiped at the same time; we’ve prayed with tears and with smiles. Truly, the intercession of others who love us has kept us strong during this time.

The hardest thing about saying goodbye to someone you love so much, is that we have this gap of time that we know we won’t see them for. The pain of death is really a great evidence that there must be more than this. We hurt because this is not the way God intended it originally. And that’s why He made a way to pass from here to there.

If you’re reading this and you’ve lost a loved one who knew Christ- take heart, be encouraged, and rejoice. It’s not over! It’s only just begun really. Of course, make sure that you’ve made the arrangements to join them one day by receiving the love of God through the death of his Son. Jesus conquered death for us through His death and resurrection. He has gone on to prepare a place for all of those who love Him and long for His appearing.

So, for now, we say goodbye- or as I like to say it, “see you later, mom!”

-peter

As a pastor, there’s nothing more that I want to see happen in our church then to allow the Holy Spirit to move. But that one statement is also one that can be read in many different ways. For some a move of the Holy Spirit means that everyone stops what they are doing and the course changes. For some, it’s about the charismatic gifts flowing or the music going much longer than ordinary at a worship gathering.

Over the last several weeks at our church service there have been “interruptions” that are clearly Holy Spirit moments. This past week, during one of the songs, I felt that it was a time for prayer and calling people to a place of deeper trust in God. Other times there have been Scriptures or word pictures that people have given. Dreams and visions, prophecies and words. But Holy Spirit moments aren’t and shouldn’t be limited to what happens at a church service alone.

God speaks throughout our everyday, only it’s harder for us to listen when consumed with the things of life. That’s precisely why we need the Holy Spirit in the first place. He transcends our office work or our gas pumping. He works within homework or on a roofing job. Amazing really! The Holy Spirit is ready to move in the everyday of life among His followers, His church.

When I’m preaching, I feel alive with the Holy Spirit. It is probably because I need to so utterly rely on God at this time. But I want to practice His presence when I think I have it all together. I want my life to be filled with these moments of God when I run into an old friend or stop to have my haircut at the barber. I’d like to be able to truly live it out in a more full and more complete way.

Perhaps Sundays are experiments of God. He moves when we’re together. Even in our small groups (cells), we have great opportunities to be “led by the Spirit” in our conversation and relationship. But, let’s not stop there! Let’s long for Holy Spirit moments, moment by moment. Join me in the challenge to be more aware and more alive in Him.

-Pastor 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

dsc02149.jpg

Jesus went to the guy at the pool and asked this question. A strange question for to ask a man who had been paralyzed all his life, so it seems. But, you know, he never really answered Jesus because I think deep down he didn’t know what it really meant to be well. He was so used to it- and perhaps things were so much easier if they would just stay that way. Read about it in John 5.

I’m like that man in so many ways. I’ve learned this over the last couple of weeks during the Sabbatical. There are areas that I need to be restored from nd these are not comfortable things, but things that require a straight out answer to Jesus’ question. “Do you want to get well?”

Let’s take my “drive” for instance. People like me tend to push themselves (and others) more than we should. We think a lot and plan a lot and do a lot. But this capacity to carry a bunch of things at the same time can also get me into trouble. Creating Ishmaels my former pastor used to call it. Those are times when we go so fast that we fail to stop and ask the Holy Spirit if we should even be going that way at all. Drivenness is one of those things that Jesus has asked me if I want to get well from. I think I do.

I’m not going to bore you with the many other things that have prevented me from jumping into the waters of the pool of Bethesda, but trust me I’ve got them. So do you.

I know of some pastors who have been blessed to have a Sabbatical only to go back to their churches discouraged and depressed. Sabbatical was more like another task for them to get through instead of a time to stop and be restored. As you have been praying for me, I am looking forward to my return as a strengthened man. Sabbatical hasn’t been a super-cure for everything, only a pause that truly has refreshed me.

Keep praying please. Over the next few weeks I will be meeting up with several other supervisors in Panama as we observe the wonderful work of God among our Foursquare family there. I’m also looking forward to taking a true family vacation when the kids are out of school for February break.

Books I’m reading (or have read recently)- The Rest of God (Mark Buchanan) wow it’s better the second time around, Heaven- (by Daniel Brown), Mayflower- considering I’m not much of a history buff, it’s amazing I got through it, Beyond Megachurch Myths- very eye opening.

Getting (along) Well-

Peter