Are You Giving or Returning?

Alan Smith of White Horse, Tennessee shared the following story of a church that had a parking problem.  It was right next door to a store that was closed on Sunday.  They asked the owner if they could use his parking lot.  He said that they could use it for 51 Sundays out of the year but that it would be chained off one week.  They were happy with the deal, but curious why it would be chained off that one Sunday.  He explained that he just wanted them to remember that it wasn't their parking lot!

You know, there's a lot of wisdom there.  Because if you use something long enough, you tend to assume that it's yours.  Everything we have belongs to God.  God wants us to remember that.  He told Israel that one day they would be richly blessed, but he warned them, "Do not say to yourself, 'My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.'  But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today."  (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).

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Filled With Joy

When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”  Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see.  The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.  Blessed is the man who does not fall away because of me." Matthew 11 and Luke 7.  John knew Jesus was the Messiah, yet he doubted because John wanted Jesus to get him out of prison and spare his life.  "Just one more miracle, please."  But Jesus didn’t do what John wanted.  When Paul pleaded with the Lord to remove the thorn, God responded with "My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  2 Corinthians 11.  Paul wanted relief.  God said “no.”

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The B-I-B-L-E, That's the Word for Me

When I defended my faith statement before Presbytery, I stated that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.  Even though my good friend ‘DM’ asked me if I was serious and then voted “No” against my Commission, I still believe that.

At Presbytery today, I read the faith statements of three young people desirous of Presbytery approval, and all three said that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and that it is the Living Word.  Also today, I was told that we Presbyterians are reformed and always reforming.

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Navigating Home

At one time, I was interested in discussing time-space continuum, string theory, neutrino spin and rotation, parallel universes, and alternate reality.  I used to listen to Blind Faith, Buffalo Springfield, and Paul Butterfield Blues.  I used to roam the forest and speak with the trees.  Today, I wonder if I can find my way home.

“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.  Where is the wise man?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater of this age?

God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.  God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.  God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so no human being might boast in the presence of God.  He is the source of our life in Christ Jesus whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification and redemption.”  1 Corinthians Chapter 1.

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Agua Viva del Espirtu Santo

As you know Rick, Susanna, Tem, and I had the opportunity to visit the Yucatan including Xoy and our new partner San Diego Buena Vista last month.  As I write this I am anticipating you will hear a detailed report before this newsletter gets in your hand.  However, Xoy is doing great.  They are serving surrounding communities and their own, with agua purificada and employing three operators.  It seemed to me the town has taken what God has given them and increased their blessings by increasing their ministry.

San Diego Buena Vista is in dire need and it is time for us as a church to take what God has given us and increase our blessings by increasing our ministry.  We need money, plain and simple.  We have received generous support, but we need more if we are to help children have clean water.  All the funds collected are used for building the plant and equipment.  The gringos pay their own way to Mexico, pay for their lodging and meals, and donate to the project financially and physically.  What I ask is that you consider options to give as you have received.  You may say you have no resources to give.  Times are hard, mines are shutting down, etc.  Here is a proposal: in lieu of gifts for your birthday, anniversary, grandparents day, Christmas, Pastor Appreciation Day, etc., ask those who might give you some tangible gift to give to the water project(s).  Host a clean water party instead of a dirty Santa party.  Watch the Cats on TV instead of going to the game.  Have a quiet night at home with your sweetie instead of going somewhere for the weekend.  You get the idea.

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Forgiving - On the Inside

God is a God of forgiveness.  Exodus 34:6 says, “Then the Lord passed by in front of Him and proclaimed The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth, who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin.”  He says, “I am the God of forgiveness that is who I am.”  Solomon said, “It is a man’s glory to overlook a transgression,” (Proverbs 19:11).  Man is never more like God than when he forgives.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells us of a father who had two sons and one of the sons was weary of being in the father’s house and wanted to go and live on his own and take all of his inheritance.  And he did just that.  He left the house, wasted all his substance in sin, and then when he reached the low point of his life, he wanted to come back and be only a servant in his father’s house because being a servant in the father’s house would be better than being what he had become.  That son was not unlike many of us - greedy, anxious to get his hands on wealth he had not earned, so humanly foolish in the way that he spent it on fast living with those who exploited him and left him in misery when his money ran out.  But slowly he came to his senses because he was dying of hunger in a pig sty that really mirrored his life.  He said, “My father’s servants live far better than I.  I will arise and go to my father.”

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No "Thank You" Needed

Often, I wish to write something that you will take note and say, “That was a mighty fine article you wrote for the newsletter, Pete!"  Then I realize most of you may not even read the newsletter.  Often I wish to go to a gathering and have someone come up and say, “That was a really good thing you did the other day," or “Come sit down with us, have some wine and something to eat.  Thank you for…."  But then I read Luke 17:10, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.”  As I sit here thinking of great things, the Holy Spirit reminds me of Matthew 7:22-23.  I guess I’ll just go about my business and do my duty to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, knowing that one day I’ll lay my crown before Him, and He will say “Welcome Home, Pete.”

On the inside, Hallelujah!