Pastor's Blog
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February 1, 2017, 12:00 AM

Gracious and Compassionate

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Aren’t you glad we serve a God who is “gracious and compassionate” (Psalm 86:15; 103:8; 116:5; 145:8)? May we reflect His grace and compassion in all things! As the Lord Jesus looked upon the masses, had compassion for them, and then did something loving in response (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:34), may we also look upon the broken and helpless of our world and be moved to action.

Think on this: Norman Cousins points out that the amount of cash lost each year in the United States amounts to about $75 per capita – money that has fallen out of pockets, is misplaced, and so forth. The total average annual income for most of the human occupants of this planet comes to about $69 per person. Thus, the average American loses more money each year than almost anyone else earns. There is something frustratingly itchy about these stats. We feel like scratching but don’t quite know where to find the bite. What do we do about unwanted distinctions? Do we celebrate the discovery that we have the biggest garbage bin in town? Do we congratulate ourselves on the fact that the drip from our leaky faucet in one day represents more water than the average Asian family in a drought-stricken area will drink in a month? Whatever one does or does not do about these jabbing statistics, one thing is clear… The notion that we simply have to take the world as it is doesn’t relieve the itch. So, what do we do? Perhaps we had better go on scratching – at least until we find the bite.

J. K. Warrick writes: “Today, we have about eleven hundred compassionate ministry centers around the country. On the one hand, we celebrate that evidence of the expanded practice of compassion in our churches. On the other hand, we really should have over twenty-nine thousand compassionate ministry centers, because every church should be a center of compassionate ministry and evangelism. In every community where there’s a Nazarene church, there ought to be the heart of compassion, because you cannot separate the call to holy living from the call to get involved in the world in which we live… Compassion is a lifestyle. It is not something that we do; it’s who we are. If the heart of a holy God has filled us with holy love, then it’s not simply to love him, but it is to allow him to love a broken world through us.”

Let us pray together: Loving Father, keep me from being an ineffective, ordinary Christian; challenge me to be among those who are ready to fling their lives away for Jesus Christ, to be utterly careless of what happens to me in order that He may be glorified. I pray in His name. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

January 25, 2017, 7:55 AM

God, Where Are You?

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you ever felt like God was absent? There have been many times in my life when I cried out of God and yet He seemed silent? Why? Where was He when I needed Him most? Could it be He was present and I missed His coming due to my own preconceived ideas of how He ought to manifest Himself?

As I consider this reality, I am reminded of how the Lord spoke to Elijah while he rested in a cave after a great battle with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 19:11-12). The Scripture tells us the voice of the Lord came to Elijah but it was not in the mighty wind, earthquake, or fire. Rather His voice came in a gentle whisper. A gentle whisper?! That seems quite unfair. Hearing such a voice would require we be extremely still and attentive. Perhaps, that is the point.

The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” Did you catch that? The Lord is always present even in our darkest hours. He comforts us in all our troubles. We simply need to be still enough to hear His voice, receive His comfort, and then go forth and share that same comfort with others.

Elisabeth-Paule Labat writes: “God is in fact always passing into the everyday and often colorless fabric of the life of each one of us. This everyday experience may even be the sphere into which he prefers to introduce his grace. The slightest event in our lives and the least discernable movement of his grace point to the passing of his justice and mercy into our lives and to his desire to appeal to our faithfulness and to draw us toward him. He passes in this way among us in order to fashion us into his form and likeness and to perfect us in his love. Sometimes he does this slowly and silently, acting like drops of water that take so many years to hollow out the rock, and with so much discretion that we are hardly aware of it. At other times, he acts so quickly that he takes us by surprise… If we are to perceive the Lord’s passing and be aware of its significance every time it happens, we much become very sensitive and intuitive and be quietly open to his presence and faithful to it.”

Let us pray together: Almighty God, you are ever present in the world around me, in my spirit within me, and in the unseen world above me, let me carry with me through this day’s life a most real sense of your power and your glory. Hallowed be your name. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

January 18, 2017, 8:01 AM

Holiness in the Mundane

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. As we seek to be Christlike, may we reflect the Lord not only in our avoidance of those things that are extraordinarily tempting, but also in the mundane. When Jesus Christ said that he was the Way he meant more than the Way to the Father. He was also telling us about a way to think, a way to act, a way to react, a way for all of life.

Galatians 6:4-9 declares, Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

The spiritual life is first of all a life. We live as spiritual men and women when we live as men and women seeking God. If we are to become spiritual, we must remain men and women. And if there were not evidence of this everywhere in theology, the Mystery of the Incarnation itself would be ample proof of it. Why did Christ become Man if not to save men by uniting them mystically with God through His own Sacred Humanity? Therefore, if we want to be spiritual men and women, let us first of all live our lives. Let us embrace reality and thus find ourselves immersed in the life-giving will and wisdom of God which surrounds us everywhere.

Abraham Joshua Heschel writes: “The problem of living does not arise with the question of how to take care of the rascals or with the realization of how we blunder in dealing with other people. It begins in the relation to our own selves, in the handling of our physiological and emotional functions. What is first at stake in the life of man is not the fact of sin, of the wrong and corrupt, but the natural acts, the needs. Our possessions pose no less a problem than our passions. The primary task, therefore, is not how to deal with the evil, but how to do deal with the neutral, how to deal with needs.”

Let us pray together: Today, O Lord – Let me put right before interest: let me put others before self: let me put things of the Spirit before the things of the body: let me put the attainment of noble ends before the enjoyment of present pleasures: let me put principle above reputation: let me put you before all else. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

January 11, 2017, 12:00 AM

Making Space

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. What a wonderful start to the new year. I am excited about all that God is doing in our midst. May we continue to draw close to Him and one another as we set aside space in our lives for encountering the risen Lord.

As I was contemplating these things I was reminded of an old hymn - “Near to the Heart of God.” In it we are encouraged with the following: “(v. 1) There is a place of quiet rest, Near to the heart of God; A place where sin cannot molest, Near to the heart of God. (v. 2) There is a place of comfort sweet, Near to the heart of God; A place where we our Savior meet, Near to the heart of God. (v. 3) There is a place of full release, Near to the heart of God; A place where all is joy and peace, Near to the heart of God.”  We need space in our lives for that place.

Hebrews 10:19-22 declares, Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

How long has it been since you truly made time in your life to draw near to God? Do you even know where to look for such a space? It may be closer than you think. Thomas Howard writes: “Somehow we have gotten swept into a millrace, and its nonstop flailing and thrashing just to keep ourselves from drowning. The sheer necessities of modern life sweep us farther and farther from any sense that it is all hallowed, really. What are we to do? There are various things we could do no doubt. We could resign ourselves to the millrace and abandon any thought of anything but the flailing. Or we could take some drastic step like moving to a farm in Vermont or an island in the Aegean, hoping thereby to find some peace and quiet where we would be able to recollect ourselves and to things right. A third possibility would be to accept the fact that life comes tumbling at us nowadays but that it is nonetheless possible for us to see our daily routines as proceeding among the hallows, so to speak; and by stirring up in our minds the things that we vaguely acknowledge anyway, to begin to hallow those routines by doing once more what men have always done with thing to hallow them; namely, offering them up in oblation to God, as literally as Abel offered up sacrifices from his ordinary routine of work.”

Let us pray together: Father, let me seek and find you in the place of prayer. May your presence become so clear to me that I will also recognize you in all the places I may be today. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

January 4, 2017, 8:19 AM

The Inner Life Renewed

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. As we enter another new year I want to challenge you to make room in your daily routine for the disciplines of the inner life: prayer, Bible reading, meditation, and fasting. There is no better time than now to make some changes in our daily routines. Think about it and be honest. How much time have you been spending each day in prayer? In reading the Scriptures? In meditation upon the things of God? When was the last time you fasted a meal? I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I want to post my answers to any of those questions for public consumption.

Faithful practice of the inner disciplines requires a concerted effort on our part. Are we willing to take the steps necessary in the arrangement of our daily comings and goings to experience the presence of God in new and fresh ways? To be clear, rearranging our schedules as they presently stand is a hassle. It will require us becoming uncomfortable with what has been comfortable for too long. The hassle with being a better manager of our time is making the decisions about what is now most important and what is no longer important. The good news is that if we will ask God what he’d remove if it were his life, he’ll gladly tell us.

Psalm 25:4-5 declares, Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Again, we read in Psalm 43:3-4a, Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight.” Before we can traverse the mountain of God we must first be led in the inner places by the Lord Himself.

Commenting on this subject Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote: Since mediation on the Scriptures, prayer, and intercession are a service we owe and because the grace of God is found in this service, we should train ourselves to set apart a regular hour for it, as we do for every other service we perform. This is not “legalism”; it is orderliness and fidelity…. We have a right to this time, even prior to the claims of other people, and we may insist upon having it as a completely undisturbed quiet time despite all external difficulties…. Who can really be faithful in great things if he has not learned to be faithful in the things of daily life?

Let us pray together: O Christ, when I look at you I see that you were never in a hurry, never ran, but always had time for the pressing necessities of the day. Give me that disciplined, poised life with time always for the thing that matters. For I would be a disciplined person. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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