Pastor’s Blogs

“Smell the Roses?”

When my roses begin to blossom, I take an early morning walk stopping at each bush to capture their fragrance. And, yes, I do think to “stop and smell the roses.”

Now you may not have roses or flowers to stop and smell, and you may not even be a morning person, but let this not deter you from stopping and smelling the moment. In the midst of all that we have been through these past few weeks, it is all the more imperative to do this.

Step out of the slipstream of panic and hysteria and worry and ultra-concern and take time to rest in the presence of Jesus. Let the Prince of Peace be your Peace:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For He is our peace … . [Ephesians 2:13-14a]

Will you join me, then, in stopping to smell the Flower, the Rose of Sharon?

Peace,

Pastor Mike

“Spring–Renewal”

Spring cleaning is a challenge, especially when we do not take the time, right? Too often we are too busy and spring cleaning becomes summer catch up or worse, nothing is done at all….

Perhaps this is indicative of our spiritual lives, too. We do not slow down—even a little— to enter into a spiritual renewal. The rush of the holiday season seems to ripple well passed January into February. And as we get to March, stopping to take a deep breath is near impossible when we can’t even catch our breath.

The solution? I’m trying to deliberately take time to pause, grab a text from the Word, and simple ruminate over it. Then let the text grab me. Maybe even seeing Psalm 49:3 come to fruition in my life:

My mouth will speak wisdom, And the meditation of my heart will be understanding. [Psalm 49:3 NASB95]

Will you join me, then, in pausing for a spiritual spring renewal?

Peace,

Pastor Mike

“The ‘New’ on My Terms”

If you’re like me, you like new things. In fact, we may go out and “comfort buy” to get something new in our lives to feel “good.” But of late I’ve been noticing that I seem to only like “new” when it is on my terms; when I can control the purchase, situation or event. When “the new” shows up unannounced or spontaneous, well, I appear to be less receptive, and sadly, sometimes even critical. …

As the Lord is transforming me to understand that He works all for the Good—even the unplanned, unannounced “new”—I need to receive these “new” as well. I do not need to feel out of control because He is in control, nor do I need to feel put out, left out or taken advantage of because He is allowing this new into my life for “the Good” which He may not have revealed to me yet.

How about you? Are you more comfortable with “the new”—even from the Lord—it is only on your terms?

“Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? — (Isaiah 43:19a NASB95)

Peace,

Pastor Mike

“Too Busy to Be Thankful”

An episode in our Lord’s life:

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11–19 ESV)

I’m not sure if they were too busy, per se, but they were clearly too something to not return and thank the Lord.  I don’t mind being a foreigner, especially to this planet, if I were one of those who “returned and give praise to God!” How about you? 

Join me in pausing and thanking our Heavenly Father for all the wonderful healings/gifts/blessings He has so graciously showered on us.

Peace,

Pastor Mike

Do Not be Distracted

Another lesson that the Lord exposed to me on my sabbatical was: “Do not be distracted”.  It was consolidated at a friend’s church as he was speaking from Nehemiah.

Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.” But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer. (Nehemiah 6:2–4 NIV84)

 Many people will distract us. Some will do this intentionally, but the majority will innocently “interrupt” us. But I have found the greater battle is internal. I get so distracted between a good “task,” “project, or “activity” and the best. I must pause and seek the Lord’s face prior to engaging in any activity. A simple, “Lord, what do You want me to do now?” prayer should be sufficient for most times, but the larger projects, do you think these would require a more deliberate special seeking of the Lord’s face?

Join me on this journey to stay focused and “not be distracted”?

“Receiving the New”


The New! It is often unknown, unfamiliar, and hard to integrate into our daily lives. Kind of like getting a new device with the buttons in a different place…, or no buttons at all.

How do you incorporate the New? Is it welcomed? Or do you hesitate?

What if the Lord is doing something new this year? Do we let the past tarnish our view of the New? Or do we, by faith, receive the New?

Let us trust the Lord has good “things” in store for us. Let us yield to the Holy Spirit to re-tool our minds so we can receive the Newwith the Joy and Gratitude–as we should. Join me in embracing and celebrating the New.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD (Jeremiah 29:11–14a NIV84)

Praying Blessings of Peace & Joy in this New Year,

Pastor Mike

“O Christmas Tree; O Christmas Tree”

Have you ever noticed that the Christmas Tree is much different than the Easter “Tree”?  One is an evergreen, symbolizing Life, the other an instrument of torture, symbolizing death. And yet the one leads to the other. Two trees, two symbols, but One Lord and One Life—Life eternal and abundant because of what was done on the one Tree that gives us gifts under the other tree.

As you take time this season to ponder these two trees, perhaps the one will be a pleasant reminder of the other, and the gifts that are exchange from under the one will remind you of the Gift that was exchanged for you on the other?

Join me this December in being truly Merry People who sincerely wish others a Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year.

13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:13–15 NIV2011)

A Blessed and Merry Christmas & a Peace-filled New Year,

Pastor Mike

Miracle of Miracles

 July 25 was the one year anniversary of my wife’s severe stroke. We have not made this too public for various reasons, but I thought I would do a blog on this in honor of my wife’s miracle. Actually, miracle of miracles. As you can see in the before and after photos, there is literally no difference. The Lord completely removed any disfiguration, deficits or deficiencies.

Allow me to enumerate the other miracles that took place on that day. Please forgive me for numbering these or even labeling them as miracles as if some how I can quantify them or even grasp all of them let alone understand them. Again, I merely “stand in awe,” but here goes….

Reporting on this one year anniversary, allow me to say that in the Lord’s mercy, I was the recipient of a series of miracles. Even a year later, I am still in awe of them. The “largest” one is that I still have my wife (of 40 years). This in in light of how severe the stroke was. It measured 20 on a 24 scale. This means either death or permanent damage with noticeable markers.

But today (as you can see from the “After” picture), she has been given a clean bill of health. To repeat, there are no markers or deficiencies at all. In fact, one doctor reluctantly said, “This is a miracle.”

Now to enumerate these miracles:

  1. The first miracle is that I was sent home to get some clothes for her stay in the hospital. As I was home gather her things, I get a call: “Your wife has just had a neurological episode. You need to come quickly,” the nurse clinically, but compassionately reported. “I will be there in 10.” (I actually got there in 8!) But when I got there, she was already “recovering” from the stroke. I bless the Lord that I did not see her in the stroke state. I’m told her entire right side went slough—deformed and shriveled…. I bless the Lord I do not have to have this image floating in my head. Miracle #1.
  2. Miracle #2: By the Time they had brought her back from the CT scan (about 20-30 mins. later), she was alert, and though she couldn’t talk, she was able to follow us with her eyes. I’m told she went to a 4 on this 24 scale around this time.
  3. Miracle #3: They couldn’t get in touch with any neuro-doctors—even the ones on call. This is a miracle because they would have attempted a high-risk invasive procedure. And I believe the Lord spared us this risk, since the blood clot was high in her left carotid arteries. (Include in this miracle is that they couldn’t get Skype to work with an off-site neurosurgeon.)
  4. Miracle #4: They still wanted to send us to Denver for more specialized care. The plane was there, fueled and ready to go. Because of the weather, they disregarded any helicopter transportation.
  5. Miracle #5: All the family and friend that were in her room praying for her were each using their own individual giftedness. It was beautiful to see the unity of the Body of Christ and the individual uniqueness of her members.
  6. Miracle #6: Someone happened to have a rather large cash gift they slipped in my hands as we were leaving to go to the airplane. Bless Jesus. It helped cover much.
  7. Miracle #7: Kathy is approaching 2 on the 24 scale as she is loaded onto the plane.
  8. Miracle #8: The flight was supposed to go around a thunderstorm, and take about 1 hour to 1 hour & 15 minutes depending on the storm. But as we approached Denver, I witnessed the clouds part, and we were able to make a straight line to Denver. Oh, and in 45 minutes! (Included in this miracle is we even beat the local ambulance to the airport.)
  9. Miracle #9: I am told that the neuro-Team at Swedish Medical Center is one of the best, if not the best, in the nation. They were ready for us as we arrived. Kathy was able to talk a little bit, but still could not say complete sentences…, and some funny time telling, too….
  10. Miracle #10: The next morning when the Doctors were making their rounds, Kathy was up with the O.T. Nurse walking over objects on the floor and then actively engaging in the discussion regarding her episode and recovery.
  11. Miracle #11: Our Oldest daughter and her husband started a prayer chain throughout their contacts. Our Middle Daughter and her husband saw us off from Grand Junciton, CO with prayer, hugs and Love—and the local prayer chain. And our Youngest Daughter was able to get off work, find a flight and fly in to Denver straightaway. (Included in this miracle is our youngest’s boss, let her go in the midst of a major project; she was able to stay with us for quite some time to assist in the recovery when we returned home.)
  12. Miracle #12: We were able to stay with our middle daughter’s in-laws while in Denver. We left with the close on our backs, and the Lord even provided a brand new toothbrush, besides the clothes I was able to borrow.
  13. Miracle #13: The insurance covered everything!
  14. Miracle #14: The prayers and support of all in Denver and those at home, family, and friends welcoming us with joyful hugs of praise.

I am sure there are many more miracles, many of which I am still not aware, but there are those private, quiet miracles that we cherish deep in our hearts.

Thank you, for allowing me to share this brief episode in my journey with Jesus, and joining us in prayers and praise.

Peace,
Pastor Mike

“The Summer of Our Lives”

Could the Summer weather mirror our spiritual health? Many throughout the nation are experiencing a drought. This sparked a connection in my mind between our spiritual condition and our weather. In a song my son-in-law Josh, wrote, one line appears, “All sunshine makes a desert, you know.” Every time I hear this, I am profoundly impacted by the truth of this line. When we have an activity, we pray it doesn’t rain. When we have a trip, we pray it won’t rain. Get the pattern?

Do you often pray that all “goes well,” that we have no “hardships”? If so, is it as if we are praying for desert to appear? Really? Maybe. Trials, challenges, difficulties are the rain storms in our lives. Thunder storms and hurricanes are greater in scope and degree. But if we do not have such times, then there will be no water for the seeds sown in our lives. (Can they grow without water?)

So in this summer of drought, let us not have a spiritual hiatus—a spiritual drought. 

Another song that has often blessed me is by Laura Story, “Blessings”: “‘Cause, what if blessings come through raindrops? What if your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights is what it takes to know Your near? What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?” What if all these are the rain that ends our spiritual drought, encourages growth and brings a rainbow?

Let not this summer of your life continue in a drought. Welcome the rain.

Main Text— Habakkuk  3:17-18 (ESV)17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the LORD, is my strength.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

  Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.—James 1:2–4 (NIV84)

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?(Psalm 42:1–2 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, Fill me with the Living Water, the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgive me for drinking from the water that can never quench my thirst for You. I welcome the rains that bring nourishment to my thirsty soul.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Prayer Warning”

 

Prayer Warning. Prayer Needed. But not just any kind of prayer; Prayer filled with Thanksgiving and Hope is needed!”

Have you ever had this warning scrolling across the prayer screen of your life? I have. Yep, although I was diligently praying, my Whine-O-Meter was pegging the Red Zone! Then the above warning scrolled across my prayer screen. Ouch!

I stopped and discovered: “Thanklessness sours prayer!”

If I am not praying with thank-fullness, then my prayers are sour and probably stink a wee bit…. So the Lord, in His Mercy & Grace, redirected my attitude (after some confession) and thus redirected my prayers. Now they are filling with Hope as well as Thanksgiving.

Oh, I’m still waiting on some “urgent” answers, but at least the  waiting room is far more peaceful and calm—and hopeful, too!

Main Text— Ephesians 1:15–16 (NIV84)15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ ….2 Corinthians 2:14–15a (NIV84)

May my prayer be set before You like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.Psalm 141:2 (NIV84)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6–7 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, forgive me for my anxious, whiny thoughts which sour my prayers. Fill me with the Holy Spirit of thankfulness and hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike