Weekly Seed of Faith 1/18/20

Seed of Faith – BURIED WITH CHRIST — RAISED TO A NEW LIFE   By Pastor Dave  

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

Dear Faithful Friends and Spirit-Filled Seed Sowers:

I hope and pray that your week is going well and that this New Year is unfolding with God’s grace upon grace as you walk in Christ.

I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read Colossians 2:6-15.  Have you ever thought what it means to walk with Christ? Have you ever thought that you have been buried with Christ in His baptism and then raised into a new life with Him?

When Paul writes this letter to the Colossians, he is sitting in a prison cell in Rome.  Paul wants the Colossians to remember that Jesus Christ is God, that Jesus Christ is the head of the church and that we can have union with Jesus Christ by walking with Christ and remembering His and our own baptism.

I love the opening verses — “Just as you have received Christ as Lord.”  When you were baptized, you received Christ as your Lord and Savior.  To “receive” means “to take your inheritance, to bring alongside, to hold, to draw oneself to and learn from someone.”  Do you notice what Paul says?  He writes us to say, “Receive, take your inheritance, take a hold of, learn from and bring alongside Jesus Christ as your LORD!  Lord means master, ruler, one who has power and authority over you.  This was a radical teaching then and is still a radical teaching today. Receive the LORD JESUS as the one who has power and authority over you. I received Christ as my Lord and Savior in 1981. I’ve never once regretted Christ being the master and ruler of my life.

If you have never been baptized, I encourage you to go and talk with your pastor or come and talk with me. Let me know and we can baptize you when you are ready to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Even if you want to rededicate yourself to Christ, I’d be happy to remember your baptism–in your pool, hot tub, river or ocean! I remember in the summer of 2010, Jac asked me to dunk her in the ocean at Carona Del Mar. She wanted to rededicate her life once again to Christ. She had been through some hard seasons with the church and she wanted to profess: “My life isn’t about a religion, Jesus, my life is about a relationship with you. You are my Lord and my Savior. Period. Nothing less. Nothing more.” Big Ed and Dave dunked her as she intentionally washed away religion and rededicated her life to a relationship with Jesus Christ. She came up out of the ocean laughing and praising God. Yes.  If you ever want to rededicate your life, or DEDICATE your life to Christ, I am a text, an email, a phone call away.

Look at verse six again … “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him…”  Since you have received Christ, Paul then tells us to continue … “peripateo”—continue to live in Christ.  I love the verb “peripateo” It means to “walk with, walk along, walk up and down, traverse, behave and conduct oneself and live with.”  Wow!  That is a mouthful!

Paul is laying down a hard teaching: Take and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord, ruler and authority of your life, and continue to live in Christ day in and day out, hour after hour.  Walk up the hill and down the hill, walk alongside of Christ. Conduct yourself with Christ. This verb is a command, not a suggestion, and we are called to continually follow and walk along with Jesus Christ as Lord.

When I read verse twelve, I am reminded of our baptism.  We were buried in the waters of baptism with Christ and then immediately we were raised into new life through the power of God.  This power of God is the awesome Holy Spirit, who washes away our sins and sets us free to walk alongside Jesus. This is what Paul means when he writes that we were dead in our sins and, through the power of God, we are forgiven by Jesus’ death on the cross. As we remember our baptism, we remember that we, too, were dead in our sin but as we go under the waters of baptism–our sins are washed away. How can that be? By the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. All sin–PAID. Our debt–PAID IN FULL.  How can we not accept and follow this Savior?

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! You have been buried with Christ and raised into a new life.

Who wouldn’t want to be set free from the sin that clings so closely to us?  Who wouldn’t like to be set free from their past failures and faults?  Imagine picking up a black stone or two and casting it into the depths of the sea.  I love how the Old Testament prophet, Micah, states this idea of a God who forgives: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:18-19

Or think of Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

At the SEED, we do a “REMEMBER YOUR BAPTISM SUNDAY” after Epiphany Sunday. We set up a table with a tall, clear vase filled with water and we set a ton of black stones around the vase. As you come forward to remember your baptism, you are given the chance to bury into the sea your sins. Casting a black stone or two or three into the waters represents your past sins, failures, disappointments, defeats, setbacks, sadness, shame, disgrace, guilt, doubt, fears–anything negative that holds you back from walking into this New Year baptized in Christ, walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s a great experience. For those of you who live near water, take a hike! Take a hike and pick up some stones and toss them into the water. “Here, Jesus, here’s my ___________. I have been buried with you in my baptism. I have been cleansed. Help me to walk in the freedom you died for.”

At church last Sunday, we had the first vase filled with water and the stones to toss and then we had a table with a vases filled with water and white stones. In order to get a white stone, you had to dip your hand into the waters. As you we dipped your hand into the water,  you remembered your baptism: I have been buried with Christ and I am raised into a new life with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. I am forgiven and I am free! I will walk continually rooted and built up in my faith with overflowing with thankfulness.”

Revelation 2:17 says — “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”

After you picked up your white stone, we had another opportunity to pick up a paper with a new name written on it for this year. If you would like a new name for the year, email me or text me and I will light a candle and pray for you and draw a new name for you for the year. 

As your pastor, I want you to know that God loves you.  God loves you just as you are.  We are bought back…redeemed.  We are forgiven.  Our slate is clean.  God promises to be with us as we grow and change this year…through the hard times, through the blessed times, through the easy times, through the difficult times…yes…God wants to bless the land we dwell in…both the mountain tops and the valleys.

Alone, we are not enough, but Christ is.  Christ’s body was broken, and his blood was shed…and that is enough.  With Christ in our hearts, we are enough.  We are forgiven.  We are cleansed.  We are free. Vision 2020–this is the perfect start to a new year and a new decade. This is the year when we decide that we will walk up the hills and down the hills with Christ in our heart.

My new name is Confident One. Jac’s is Full of Happiness. What’s yours? Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside! Have a great week.

See you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Romans 3:13-18 The Race in Ruin

We have already had one very grim description of the human race in the verses that end Romans 1. There humanity was described as being “filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity (see Rom 1:29-31). After a list such as this, we might think unnecessary to catalogue more. Yet, as Paul gets to the end of this first main section of Romans, in which the need of people for the gospel of grace is so clearly and comprehensively pointed out, he seems to sense a need to do it all over again. The difference between this and the passage in Romans 1 is that each of these sentences is a quotation from the Old Testament, whereas the earlier passage was made up merely of the apostle’s own descriptive terminology. In other words, the verses in Romans 1 are a description of the world as Paul saw it, though he is also writing as an apostle and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The verses in Romans 3 are more specifically and obviously God’s own description of the race’s depravity.

Verses 13 and 14 are made up of three quotations from the Old Testament: Psalm 5:9, Psalm 140:3, and Psalm 10:7, though there are other passages that are similar. What is striking about them is that they all refer to organs of speech: throat, tongue, lips, and mouth. And they describe how the words spoken by these organs are used to harm others. In the previous verses we have shown how people harm themselves by turning away from God. Here we learn how they also harm others by the organs of speech that God gave them. What do you think of first when you read these verses? If you are like me, you notice the words cursing and bitterness and think, first of all, of harsh speech, which is meant to wound another person. Yet, what Paul is saying here goes deeper, because the words that describe the outcome of the harmful words of the ungodly all have to do, not with psychological injury, but with death.

We are not to think that this grim description is limited to mere words; in verse 14 the deceitful and poisonous speech of verse 13 boils over into “cursing and bitterness” on those who refuse to be deceived. And in verses 15-17 those who teach falsehood move from words to violent actions. These verses, quoted from Isaiah 59:7-8, describe three acts of violent men, beginning with the end result of these acts. To see the progression, we need to take them in reverse order. (1) “The way of peace they do not know” (v. 17). This relates to people as they are in themselves apart from God. They know no personal peace-“… the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud” (Isa. 57:20). This also describes the effects such persons have upon others. Having no peace themselves, they disrupt the peace of other people. (2) “Ruin and misery mark their ways” (v. 16). Again, this is something wicked persons experience themselves; their way is misery and ruin. It’s also something they bring on others. Without a changed nature, human beings naturally labor to destroy and ruin one another. (3) “Their feet are swift to shed blood” (v. 15). Working backward, we come to the last of these deceitful actions. Their end is death – and not just physical death, though that would be bad enough in itself – but spiritual death, which is death of the soul and spirit in hell. Death means separation. Physical death is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body. Spiritual death is the separation of the soul and spirit from God. It’s forever!

The last phrase of this great summary of the human race in ruin is from Psalm 36:1. It tells why all these other violent and wicked acts have happened: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  In the Bible the word fear, when used of God, denotes a right and reverential frame of mind before Him. It has to do with worshiping Him, obeying Him, and departing from evil. When Romans 3:18 declares that the human race has not done this, it’s saying what Paul has been stating all along. Because men and women will not know God, choosing rather to suppress the truth about Him, their minds are darkened and they become fools. They claim to be wise but, “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Rom. 1:22).

It’s interesting, that Paul here also refers to “eyes.” This is the sixth of the specific body references Paul makes in these verses in order to make his accusations vivid. Since eyes are our organs of vision, and to have the fear of God before our eyes means that we have God constantly in our thoughts and in a central position in everything that concerns us. It means that we are ever looking toward Him. Again, in discussing man’s downward path, that it is our destiny as those who are made in God’s image to look up to the heavenly beings and beyond them to God and thus become increasingly like God. To have the “fear of God before [our] eyes” is to do just that. It’s the way of all blessing, growth, and knowledge. But if we will not do that, we will inevitably look down and become like the beasts that are below us.

How could our salvation be due to anything but mercy if we are as ruined as Paul describes us? Ruined? Yes! But we may be saved from ruin by the glorious work of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Romans 3:13-18 Reflection Questions:

Why do you think Paul felt the need to quote from the Old Testament in these verses?

What other New Testament passages come to you mind regarding harmful speech?


Are your eyes ever looking toward God throughout your days?

Weekly Seed of Faith 8/16/19

Seed of Faith – I BELIEVE IN JESUS — IS JESUS ENOUGH?   By Pastor Dave  

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14

Dear Saintly Seed-Sowers:

It is my hope and prayer that you will see the GLORY of Jesus in your life and that you will come to know that Jesus is enough.

Today we begin to look at the second section of the Apostles’ Creed.

Join with me in the reading of this ancient creed of faith that has shaped and changed so many lives for so many years.

The Apostles’ Creed 
1. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;
2. and in Jesus Christ, His only (begotten) Son, our Lord;
3. who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, 

4. suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried;  He descended into hell; 
5. the third day he rose again from the dead; 
6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; 
7. from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost, 
9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, 
10. the forgiveness of sins, 
11. the resurrection of the body, 
12. and the life everlasting.

This creed was used as a creed, to state exactly what the early believers believed.  In fact, the word “creed” comes from “credo” which means “I believe.” I hope by the end of our series that you will have found your own “CREDO”! Do you remember that the early church used this creed as their baptismal confession? If you wanted to join the church—way back in the second century—you needed to proclaim your faith in the TRINITY: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Apostles’ Creed was one way to declare what you believed.

The first section of the Creed was about God, the Father–the creator and maker of all. The second section of the Creed is about the second person of the Trinity: JESUS. When The Apostles’ Creed speaks about Jesus, it takes us on a journey through Christmas, Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter as it unfolds the truth of who Jesus is.

Jesus is the name that Michael the Arch Angel gave to Mary when he announced to her the Good News of her pregnancy. “…the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.'” (Luke 1:30-33)

The name “Jesus” is Greek and comes from the Hebrew name for “Joshua” which means “God is Savior.”  By giving him the name Jesus, this identified Jesus as a historical person:  Jesus was Mary’s son.  Jesus was the son of Joseph, a carpenter.  Jesus worked in His father’s carpentry business until he was thirty years old and then Jesus began His ministry of healing, of miracles and of resurrections.  Jesus labored for three years as a rabbi teaching that the Kingdom of God had come. He was put to death around 30 A.D. by Pontius Pilate. After Christ’s death, His followers became known as CHRISTIANS (little Christs).

Part two, line two of the Creed starts with: “I believe in Jesus Christ.” Here’s some trivia on the word “Christ.” “Christ” is the Greek word for the Hebrew word “Messiah.” Christ equals Messiah. Messiah equals Christ. The name “Christ” is a title, it is not Jesus’ last name. When we say “Jesus Christ,” it means “Jesus the Messiah.”

The title “Christ” also expresses the claim that Jesus fulfilled all three ministries that are anointed with the title in the Old Testament times: a prophet (a messenger from God,) a priest (one who mediates with God for us by sacrifice) and a king.  Jesus Christ literally means: “Jesus, the Messiah, the prophet, the priest and the king.”  “Christ” is a pretty impressive title. This is what we are saying when we recite the first two lines: I believe God is my Father who has power over all my Father has ever created.  Line two: I believe that Jesus is the messiah, the Christ, the prophet, the priest and the king.

We continue in the Creed to proclaim that this Jesus Christ is God’s only Son.

Legend has it that sometime in the first century, a wealthy merchant was traveling through the Mediterranean world. He was looking for the distinguished Pharisee, Paul, when he encountered Timothy. Timothy arranged a visit between the merchant and Paul. Paul, at the time, was  a prisoner in Rome. Stepping inside the cell, the merchant was surprised to find a rather old man, physically frail, but whose serenity and magnetism challenged the visitor. They talked for hours. Finally, the merchant left with Paul’s blessing. Outside the prison, the merchant inquired, “What is the secret of this man’s power? I have never seen anything like it before.”  Timothy replied, “Did you not guess? Paul is in love.” The merchant looked bewildered. “In love?” “Yes,” Timothy answered, “Paul is in love with Jesus Christ.”  The merchant looked even more bewildered. “Is that all?” Smiling, Timothy replied, “Is that all? That, my friend, is everything.”[i]

So What?
Christianity can sometimes be a crazy thing. The Church can sometimes be a crazy thing. There are all these “rules” of accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. And there are many debates on how to accept Christ as your Savior but not as your Lord. Here’s what the WORD says in John 14:6, Jesus is speaking, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”

I can only imagine that some of you might be wrestling with God’s call on your life. What is God calling you to do and become? Here’s your “SO WHAT?” for the week: IS JESUS ENOUGH FOR ME? Is God my Father, and is Jesus my Savior and Lord? Is Jesus all I need? Or do you need more than Jesus? It’s the age-old wrestling match: is JESUS enough?

I was 12 when I first accepted Jesus as my Savior. I believed in Jesus because I wanted to go to heaven to see my brother, Gary, who had died in a car accident.  When I was 27, I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life.  Ten years later, I felt the call to go into full-time ministry. It took me three years of battling the “What ifs” before I told my wife. What if I give up everything, we’ve worked so hard to get? What if I walk away from security? What if I’m really bad at ministry? What if we never have much of anything? Is Jesus enough? If Jesus is my Savior and my Lord can I trust His call? “FOLLOW ME, Dave, and I will make you a fisher of people.”

In conclusion, I think of Jacob who wrestled an angel all night.  (First of all, notice THE MAIN SPORT LISTED HERE: wrestling!) Jacob had fled his home because he had tricked his father (with his mother’s help) and had stolen the birthright from his twin brother, Esau. He went to work for his Uncle Laban and married both Leah and Rachel. By this time in the story, Jacob is heading back home with all of his wives, children, livestock and all that goes along with that. He sends everyone ahead, and stays behind at the ford of the Jabbok. Jacob was alone and an angel wrestled him all night. The angel touched and wrenched Jacob’s hip socket. Jacob said to the angel, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” I often wonder if the longer version went more like this, “I am about to go see my brother. Long ago, I outsmarted him for the family birthright. I haven’t seen in him many years. You need to bless me. He might really be mad at me.” The angel does more than bless Jacob, the angel changes Jacob’s name to Israel–because he has struggled with God and with humans and has overcome. Jacob had to get to the point where God was enough. So do you and I. This is your “SO WHAT?” for the week: IS JESUS ENOUGH FOR ME?
Let’s pray:
God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit—HELP me to know what I believe, increase my faith and increase my trust in YOU. God, help me. Help me to stand at the waters of  baptism, help me to understand this creed. Give me eyes to see YOU, ears to hear YOU and a heart to know YOU. Help me to follow You as You make me a fisher of people. Jesus, You are enough. Amen.
See you Sunday …

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave

[i] Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (p. 225). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[i] Historic Creeds and Confessions. (1997). (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Lexham Press.

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 5/9/19

Seed of Faith – Accept One Another  By Pastor Dave  

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:5-7

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed-Sowers:

Greetings in the love and grace of our Lord!

Over the past few weeks, we have been working our way through the “One Another” passages in the Bible.  We have looked at what it means to “Greet One Another,” “Honor One Another,” “Be Devoted to One Another,” “Serve One Another,” “Submit to One Another,” and “Live in Harmony With One Another.”  Today we turn to the book of Romans to hear what our good friend, the Apostle Paul, has to say about accepting one another.

I encourage you to read Romans 15:1-7 and allow the Holy Spirit to teach and guide you as we all learn what it means to accept one another.  This particular message will continue for a few weeks because there’s just so much we need to learn about accepting one another.

Paul writes this letter around 57 AD. The world, as they knew it, was extremely divided.  The Greeks hated the Romans. The Romans had overpowered Greeks.  The Romans looked down upon the Arab and Jewish people as inferior to them.  The Jewish people did not like the Romans. The divisions and disunity were made even more clear by the hatred of the other polytheistic religions.  (Polyteistic: religions that have many Gods versus the monotheistic (ONE GOD) religion of the Jewish people.) People everywhere were divided by religion, by nations and by social status. The rich lorded over the poor, the free lorded over the slave, and males lorded over females.

Sound familiar? Things haven’t changed all that much since 57 AD.

In our passage today from Romans, Paul is telling us that the strong should bear with the weak; that we should please our neighbor and build them up.  Do you know your neighbors? Who really IS my neighbor? I wonder how many of us know who our neighbors really are.

In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 10, Jesus has a teaching about loving your neighbor as yourself.  He told the parable of the Good Samaritan.  A man is beaten and robbed and left for dead.  A Priest and a Levite pass the man by.  But the Samaritan man comes alongside the man and bandages him, takes him into town, and pays cash for the man to stay in the “inn” as he heals. Jesus then questions his audience, “Who do you think proved himself a good neighbor?”  This is exactly what Paul is writing about here in Romans 15. The strong should bear with the weak.  We should care for our neighbor.

Do you remember the television show,  Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood? (It’s now entitled Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.) Our three children (and my wife) never missed an episode. The host of the show was Mr. Rogers, aka Fred McFeely Rogers. Mr. Rogers was a man defined by his Christian faith and the message he taught every day on his beloved children’s show, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, was shaped by his Christian faith. Do you know Mr. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister? It’s true. Here’s the words to the theme song, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?
Won’t you please,
Won’t you please,
Please won’t you be my neighbor?

Mr. Rogers has been the focus of several documentaries and a movie. Listen to these quotes from 2004’s “America’s Favorite Neighbor”:

You’ve made this day a special day by just your being you.” 
“There is no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.”
“I think everybody longs to be loved, and longs to know that he or she is lovable.

If you haven’t seen “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” starring Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers, do yourself a favor and watch it. He was an incredible person who loved people and, especially, children. He helped open our eyes to the fact that, while we inhabit planet Earth, we are all neighbors.

Mr. Rogers echoes the sentiment of the biblical passage 1 John 4:10, “This is love: Not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 

Mr. Rogers’ theological messages could be traced to the biblical notion of “neighbor” and to Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan. Jesus’ point—the Samaritan man and the Jewish man were neighbors feels right at home on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. In the 2001 commencement address at Middlebury College, Rogers said, “When we look for what’s best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we are doing what God does; in appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.” It may sound old-fashioned but Mister Rogers’ theology was radical in 1962 when his show debuted, and it remains radical today. When we stop judging, when we stop ignoring, when we stop walking away, when we stop turning our back on others…when we begin to look for what’s best in that person, we are doing what God does. We are accepting our neighbor and we are participating in something that is truly sacred.

So What? Here’s your homework until we meet again next week:

How do we accept one another?
How do we appreciate our neighbor?

We read and reread and we DO Romans 15:5-7. We believe that God will give us the endurance and the encouragement we need in order to foster a spirit of unity among us…as we follow Christ. We need to see our part in our neighborhoods…and not just where we live but where we worship, where we work, where we shop, where we drive, where we golf, where we play sports…the list goes with us wherever we go.

In 2005 my wife and I accompanied our Youth Director as we drove a mission team of teenagers to Mexico to do VBS for a local church.  While we were there, our host church drove us to visit the different areas of Ensenada.  One day our hosts took us to the card- board village on the outskirts of town. They gave us a tape recorder that played a tape sharing the gospel message in the dialect of the people who lived in that card-board village. Witnessing the good news to this group of forgotten people was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Imagine a fence line behind a manufacturing plant. Along the fence line imagine a “city” made out of empty, flattened cardboard boxes and plastic tarps. Clothespins held their “homes” together. Living inside these open-to-the-elements homes were real people like you and me. Cries from babies and laughter from children were heard. Their “bathroom” was communal and was a row of outhouses. Their shower was communal, too. Two buckets were housed on top of the outhouses. They were filled and dumped daily. One bucket was to wet you down so you could soap up and the other was to rinse you off.  A horn sounded early in the morning. If you wanted a shower for that day, you ran to the buckets. No such thing as a long, hot shower.  Their homes were honestly made from cardboard, plastic tarps and bags. One home ran into another. Separated by walls of plastic and cardboard. There was no carpet or tile flooring. Only a dirt floor. These people were the outcast people. They were a forgotten people.

Our hosts thought we needed to experience one night of trying to share the GOOD NEWS with a tent city. And we did. It was frustrating and depressing. How can you share the good news of Christ–when we wore the nice clothes and they wore rags? It shook us all to our core.

Once we arrived back to our host church, (where we also showered outside in our swimsuits with a garden hose,) the youth gathered together. They started sharing about what they had experienced. And then…they started sorting clothes out from their personal suitcases. They went through their favorite snacks and candy and went through our food reserves. And they begged to go back to this camp but on their terms.  They didn’t need a tape player telling these people in their own language about the GOOD NEWS, all they really needed was the love of Jesus in their hearts and open arms. The first night may have been a disaster–but their hearts could not forget the forgotten people who lived in homes of cardboard. Our last two nights in Ensenada were spent giving away what we had. The kids squealed at the snacks and candy and soccer balls. The moms cried to see the vanloads of food show up and the dads were happy to see everyone so happy.  These people were our neighbors. And we weren’t going to walk on the other side of the road. Everything we had left we gave away: towels, sheets, sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, toiletries, food and leftover funds. Mr. Rogers would have been proud.

The Greek word for “accept” in the scripture above is “προσλαμβάνω proslambanō’\” and it means “to receive, to accept, to welcome, to take along as a companion, to gather together.”

Jesus taught acceptance.  He ate with tax collectors and sinners.  He went out to the sick and broken.  Jesus welcomed the outcasts. How can YOU do the same? How can WE do the same? How can your CHURCH accept one another? Jesus has accepted you and me,  why don’t we accept, welcome, gather together, take along as a companion—the others we meet along the way?

As most of you know, my wife and I have moved many times. Last July, God provided us with a permanent home. As we go through boxes, my wife and daughter cheer on their personal mantra, “DOES THIS BRING ME JOY?” If the answer is “yes,” it goes in the keep pile. If the answer is “no,” it goes in the Salvation Army pile or in the HOMES OF PROMISE pile. Not once has anyone in the family said, “Remember that one shiny, expensive knick-knack? I wish I still had it.”

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?
Won’t you please,
Won’t you please,
Please won’t you be my neighbor?

Romans 15:7 Accept ONE ANOTHER, then, just as Christ accepted you–bring praise to God!

God loves you, neighbor, and so do I,
Pastor Dave

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