Seed Of Faith

Weekly Seed of Faith 8/1/19

Seed of Faith – I BELIEVE GOD THE FATHER   By Pastor Dave  

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Hebrews 12:1-3

Dear Faithful Friends and Fantastic Seed-Sowers:
Greetings in the grace and love of God! Our series on “LOVE ONE ANOTHER” has ended and we are now going into our “What We Believe” series. As I pray and seek the Lord for what to preach on, I’m often overwhelmed with thoughts like, “I’ve been preaching for 20 years. I’ve preached almost a thousand messages. What is left, Lord?” And just when I seriously cannot think of one more thing, a crevice to a sacred cave opens with, what I’m sure is Holy Spirit wisdom, and I start wondering again. “What is the Apostles’ Creed? When was it created? Who wrote it? Why did they write it?” And pretty soon a whole, new series opens up and I’m off down another series’ trail. Today we begin a series that I’ve called “I BELIEVE.” Our series is based upon the Apostles’ Creed.

Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell
The third day he rose again from the dead
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead
I believe in the Holy Ghost
I believe a holy catholic church; the communion of saints
The forgiveness of sins
The resurrection of the body
And the life everlasting. Amen.[i]

The Apostles’ Creed gets its name from the Apostles who followed Jesus — Peter, Andrew, James & John, Matthew, Thomas and the rest.  One tradition believes each disciple was responsible for one line in the Creed, however, most scholars do not believe that.  The earliest reference of the Apostles’ Creed is found around the middle of the 2nd century — around 140 A.D. Roughly a little over 100 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.   The earliest written form of the creed is found in a letter that Marcellus of Ancyra wrote in Greek to Julius, the bishop of Rome, about 341. Fifty years later, Tyrannius Rufinus wrote a commentary on this creed in Latin.[i]

We have in our possession the writings of a document that is at least 1,879 years old!  Stop and ponder the millions of people who have recited this creed throughout the years.  When we say the Apostles’ Creed, we are not just expressing our own faith or what we believe, we are joining our voices with the great cloud of witnesses from across the centuries—people from every tribe and nation, people who love Christ.

For the early church, the Apostles’ Creed was known as “The Rule of Truth” or “The Rule of Faith” “rugula fidei” in the Latin or Roman world at the time. This “Rule of Faith” was not to replace Scripture or supersede Scripture in any way but was used to corroborate, verify, validate and teach the Scriptures.

Honestly, what could happen in our world today if we all went back to teaching “The Rule of Truth” or “The Rule of Faith” –the Apostles’ Creed?  Like the guy in the movie THE PRINCESS BRIDE says, “Inconceivable.”

The Latin word for “creed” is Credo and it literally means “I BELIEVE.” The Apostles’ Creed is a statement of what the apostles believed.

Our “SO WHAT?” questions comes early today:   What do you believe?  Who do you believe?  Why do you believe? How do you believe?

It is my prayer that, as we go through this series, we will come to know what we believe and why we believe what we believe.

The truth is that we all believe in something. The Atheist who says there is no God is stating their belief–I believe there is no god.  The Buddhist believes in Budda, the Hindu believes in Carma, the Muslim believe in Allah. Every man-made religion has its own beliefs and practices.

Teaching time: The word “believe” is used 253 times in the New Testament and another 30 times in the Old Testament.  “Faith” is another word for “believe” and it is used over 420 times in the Bible. Just in the Hall of Faith, chapter 11 of Hebrews, the word “faith’ is used 23 times. Faith means assent; faith is believing that certain things are true.  Faith means trust.  When we say that there once was a man called Jesus who lived, died and rose again, we are affirming our belief and our trust in Jesus. As Christians and followers of Jesus, we don’t just believe in something.  We believe in someone! Faith is not about believing that God exists, it is anchoring ourselves, our lives, and all that we have, in God.

Here’s some history: The early creed was developed as a baptismal confession.  In the early church, we’re going back to 140 A.D., the disciples of Jesus were taught this creed over a period of time. They had to memorize each word and the meaning of this trinitarian statement about: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. On their baptismal day, the day they joined the church, every person had to say the Apostles’ Creed.

On the day of their baptism, each person waded out into the water. The pastor asked them if they believed and they were to respond — I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  The pastor would then immerse them under the water and they’d come back up.  The pastor would ask them a second time, “What do you believe?” and they would respond — And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell The third day he rose again from the dead He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. Then they would be immersed back under the water for a second time.  The pastor would ask them a third time, “What do you believe?” They would respond — I believe in the Holy Ghost, I believe in a holy catholic church; the communion of saints The forgiveness of sins, The resurrection of the body And the life everlasting. Amen  They would then be immersed the third and final time…finally to come up again out of the depths of the waters into a new life of faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Kind of cool, isn’t it? (If you ever want to be baptized this way, I’m all for it!)
SO WHAT?
Back in 2005, I was with a mission team that went to Peru to build a church. We built a lovely church and the people were so very thankful. I even got to preach in that little church—four walls, no screens on the windows.  After the church was completed, our team went up to tour a town in the Andes Mountains called Canta.  That Sunday morning, we went out to the river on the edge of town.  We were at 10,000 feet above sea level. The river was running swiftly, and it was freezing cold.  Lo and behold, it was baptismal day! The Peruvians in Canta dress up in white robes, stand by the riverbank and walk out into the freezing water one by one.  Each of the pastors took turns doing the baptisms: First, we would ask them their name.  Then we would ask them why they wanted to be baptized.  One by one, the person would turn to the members of their families, and the church, and there they declared and recited why they believed. I will never forget that experience.  I will never forget the joy, excitement, and the new lives that were proclaimed by professing what they believed on their baptismal day.
Our trip was in 2005–and here I am, vividly recalling their faith from over 14 years ago. (Maybe it’s time for me to host a beach baptismal remembrance day?!)

YOUR “SO WHAT?” for the week:
Imagine…you are standing by your favorite river, lake, ocean spot, or waterfall. It’s time for you to be baptized. You are wearing a white robe. Your family and your church family are there with you. What do you say? What do you believe? Take a quiet time and think about this. The next few weeks we are going to go over the Apostles’ Creed. But what would you say today? What exactly do you believe? For me, I’d be at the Lake of the Ozarks. I’d be out in a quiet cove on a small boat. I know exactly what I’d say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty…”
And down I go, for the first time!

SUMMER 2019: a really good time for us to know and proclaim what we believe.

You are in my prayers daily and I’m praying that our Heavenly Father proclaims love to you unconditionally!

SEED you Sunday!

God loves you and so do i,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

[i] Ritzema, E., & Barry, J. D. (2016). Apostles’ Creed. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[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 7/18/2019

Seed of Faith – God’s Love & Our Love   By Pastor Dave  

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

Dear Friends and Faithful Companions on this Journey with Jesus:

We come to the end of our series on the “LOVE ONE ANOTHER” passages. I encourage you to take  some time and read your Bible this week.  Read 1 John 4:7-21!  I love the verses above! When you read these wonderful words of life in 1 John 4, take a moment and circle all the times the word love is used.  I will help you — the word “love” is used 26 times in 14 verses!

Love is a many splendor-ed thing as they say!

As we study this week, let’s remember a few things: John was picked by Jesus as a young man to be a disciple. This first book of John was written between 85-90 A.D.—50 years past the resurrection. If John was 15 when he began following Jesus, he is now 65 years old writing this book. John may have been the only surviving disciple at this time; perhaps he wanted to reassure his fellow Christians in their faith. Here in first John, John wants to make a point!  Twenty-six times in fourteen verses he writes about love! John used the word “love” 43 times in the entire letter.  Not only does he use the word “love” 26 times in 14 verses, he uses the phrase, “Love One Another” three times.  In verse seven it is an exhortation, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” In verse eleven, it is a statement of duty, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  In verse 12, it is a hypothesis, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

John is now an old man. (Hey, wait! Didn’t I just turn 65?!) John had spent three years with Christ doing daily ministry. He witnessed miracles. He heard tons of really good preaching and teaching. He saw people healed. And…John witnessed the crucifixion…AND THE RESURRECTION.  What John is teaching here is unmistakable: God is love.  This letter was circulated around the early churches and “Pastor” John was telling them, “God is light!  God is Spirit! God is love!”

Over the past few weeks, we have been learning about the “One Another Principles.”  Loving one another is a powerful aspect of our life in Christ and in our lives with one another. This “loving one another” business becomes hard work when we are hurt, betrayed, rejected, insulted, judged, mistreated and/or neglected.  Pastor John knew this and he knew the importance of loving one another; that’s why he wrote this book. John had a one-track mind on this subject: 26 times he reiterated: love one another–despite the hurt, despite the rejection, despite the lies and rumors, despite the betrayal. Love one another–not once, not twice but how about 26 times?

This past week, I talked with a teacher who has just retired after twenty-five years of teaching in an elementary school.  I told her to think of all the lives of the children she had touched in those twenty-five years.  She said that she figured that she had over 5,000 children come through her classroom in those twenty-five years. I thought about that and I reflected on the opportunities she had been given to “love one another” as God had loved her. That made me stop and reflect on all of the different people whom I have met and ministered to through my years of ministry.

Will we ever know all of the people whose lives we have touched? No, at least not until heaven.

Ray Boltz is a songwriter/singer and he wrote a song called, “Thank You.”

I encourage you to watch the YouTube video … Here is a link to a YouTube …

https://youtu.be/UFrdJ2V3r7Y

Here are the words to “Thank You” by Ray Boltz
I dreamed I went to heaven
You were there with me
We walked along the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea
We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name
You turned and saw a young man
He was smiling as he came

He said friend, you may not know me now
But then he said but wait
You used to teach my Sunday school
When I was only eight
Every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start
One morning when you said that prayer
I asked Jesus in my heart

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

Then another man stood before you
And said remember the time
A missionary came to your church
His pictures made you cry
You didn’t have much money
But you gave it anyway
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that’s why I’m here today

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

One by one they came,
As far as the eye could see
Each one somehow touched
By your generosity
Little things that you had done, sacrifices made
Unnoticed on the earth, heaven now proclaims
And I know up in heaven
That you’re not supposed to cry
But I was almost sure
There were tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord
And He said my child look around you
For great is your reward

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave
I am so glad you gave
I am so glad you gave[i]

So What?
After all these weeks of learning to “LOVE ONE ANOTHER”, we are back to Mr. Rogers! Fred Rogers was the creator of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” a children’s television show that began airing in 1968 and ran until 2000—that’s 895 episodes. In 1997, Mr. Rogers won the Emmy lifetime achievement award. Here is an excerpt of his speech:

“So many people have helped me to come to this night. Some of you are here. Some are far away. Some are even in heaven. All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are? Those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life. 10 seconds of silence. I’ll watch the time. Whomever you’ve been thinking about, how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they’ve made.”

The video shows actors and actresses tearing up during and after those ten seconds of silence.

Our “SO WHAT?” for today is this: pause quietly and remember those who have loved you and helped you and encouraged you to become the person that you are today.  Take some time to reflect on the outrageous, lavish, unconditional, inconceivable, unreserved, unrestricted, unlimited, unhindered and unfailing love that God has poured out upon you and that you can freely pour out upon every person you know.

Stop and time out ten seconds on your phone. Think about the people who have made the time to pour out into your life. After your ten seconds are up, spend another minute or two thanking God for each person. Like the song by Boltz tells us–we never know how our investments pay out. We never know how one smile can change someone’s day. We never know how one kindness can change someone’s heart. We never know how one coin can change someone’s life.

Our church is 8 years old. When our youngest went to Africa, she was changed forever by the children and the people there. We started collecting our coins and sending them to Zambia. We started eating cereal or sandwiches and sending a bigger donation to the orphans. Then the churches we served started sending donations, too. Today, ACE (Alliance for Children Everywhere) is 50 years old! Our little church has sent over $20,000 in NOISY SUNDAY COINS during the past 8 years. I’ve been there once and I’m going again in the summer of 2020. What I believe is in the song.

AS WE PAY IT FORWARD…lives are changed. And we never know how one life that we impact will impact others.

A long time ago, I was just a kid kicking a can down the road! Then I met this JESUS and my whole life changed. How about YOU?

LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

SEED YOU SUNDAY!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 6/29/2019

Seed of Faith – Sincere Love   By Pastor Dave  

“Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply from the heart..For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” I Peter 1:21-23

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:
It has been two weeks since I have had a chance to sit down and write a Seed of Faith.  The Collins/Peters household was busy building a new fence and gate and I was really busy with the ministry end of being a pastor. One good friend has passed into Heaven, and several other dear friends have been very sick and in the hospital.  I thank each and every one of you for your prayers and support as I’ve experienced this last round of chelation, which has hit me pretty hard. My endurance, strength and energy has not been what I’m used to.  My feet have been really hurting and for my birthday my wife brought me to a shoe store that watches your gait and measures your feet. With all of the swelling from chelation, my shoe size grew two sizes and I went from a regular width to a triple wide! No wonder my feet were hurting, I was wearing shoes two sizes too small. We had a good laugh over that. Thankfully, I am having more good days than bad ones.  You are such a blessing in my life and in the ministry of The Seed. God is good and works for good in our lives as we hold on, stand firm, and trust.

Here’s some Bible trivia.  There are eleven times in the Bible where we are encouraged to “love one another.”  Today we will look at one of the famous passages — “love one another.”  Today’s passage comes right before the foundational verse of The Seed — which is 1 Peter 1:23.  I encourage you take you Bibles this week and read 1 Peter or at least the first chapter of 1 Peter.

On a beautiful afternoon in April of 2008, two college women’s softball teams faced each other under the blue skies of the Cascade Mountains.  One team was from Western Oregon University and the other team was from Central Washington. Inside a chain-link fence, before a few hundred fans, the two teams played a decisive game.  The winner would advance to the division playoffs.  The loser would hang up their gloves and go home.  The Western Oregon Wolves were a sturdy team that had several strong batters, Sara Tucholsky was not one of them.  She hit a strong .153 and played in the game only because the first-string right fielder had muffed a play earlier in the day. Sara had never hit a home run in her career, but on that beautiful Saturday, with two runners on base, Sara connected with a curve-ball and sent it sailing over the left-field fence.

In her excitement Sara missed first base. Her coach shouted for her to return and touch the base.  When she turned and started back, something popped in her knee and down she went.  Sarah drug herself back to first base, pulled her knee to her chest in pain, and asked the first base coach, “What do I do?”  The umpire wasn’t sure.  He knew if any of Sara’s teammates assisted her, she would be called out.  Sara knew if she tried to stand, she would collapse.  Her team couldn’t help her.  Her leg couldn’t support her. How could she cross home plate? The umpires huddled to talk.[i]

While the umpires huddled and the Sara groaned in pain, we are going to reflect on I Peter.

You and I have a lot in common with Sara.  Sometimes we, too, sit on the bench.  Sometimes we stumble and fall.  Sometimes, in our excitement, we miss stepping on first base. Sometimes we fall and our fall causes us pain, or causes others we love, pain.  Sometimes the umpires in our lives don’t know what to do with us.  We have stumbled, we have fallen, and we need to be rescued.

As I sat and studied this week, I was struck by the word that Peter used to describe how our love for one another should be: SINCERE. Peter says that our love for each other should be sincere.  The Greek word for is “ἀνυπόκριτος anupokritos” which means “unhypocritical or without hypocrisy, being authentic, upright, genuine and sincere.”  Think about it. Peter goes way back with Jesus.  He was one of the first fishermen Jesus ever called to follow Him. Peter was there for everything: the miracles, the healings, the feeding of thousands from nothing. Peter heard every single sermon Jesus ever preached. Jesus was sincere. And Peter had learned that God’s love for us is without hypocrisy, God’s love is genuine and sincere, and he wants our love for one another to be without hypocrisy. Our love is to be genuine and sincere.  Peter tells us that we should love one another “ekteno” — “deeply, fervently, earnestly, zealously, and without ceasing.” Do you have love like this? Love that is deep, fervent, earnest, sincere, and genuine.

LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

An old story from the early 1900’s illustrates to us how to love one another deeply, fervently earnestly, and without ceasing.  While on a three-story scaffold at a construction site one day, a building engineer tripped and fell toward the ground in what appeared to be a fatal fall. Right below the scaffold, a laborer looked up just as the man fell, realized that he was standing in exactly where the engineer would fall, braced himself and absorbed the full impact of the engineer’s fall. The impact slightly injured the engineer but severely hurt the laborer. The brutal collision fractured almost every bone in his body. The good news is that he recovered from the injuries, but he was severely disabled. Years later, a reporter asked the former construction laborer how the building engineer had treated him. The handicapped man told the reporter, “He gave me half of all he owns, including a share of his business. He is constantly concerned about my needs and never lets me want for anything. Almost every day he gives me some token of thanks or remembrance.”

Do you see it? Jesus is the laborer who absorbs our fall. As we round first, second or third base—and we stumble or trip—whether on our own or because of circumstances we cannot see—Jesus absorbs our fall. Often we forget that on the cross, and at Calvary, Jesus stood in our place and took the full impact of our fall.  Jesus redeemed us by His shed blood. Jesus bought us back. Jesus payed our ransom. Jesus paid in full and reclaimed each one of us, a prisoner of the war of good and evil.

So What?
Back to my opening story.  Remember, Sara, the girl we left at first base writhing a pain, clutching her knee, with one hand touching first base? Sara is a long way from home plate.  Her teammates cannot help her or she will be called out due to interference. The umpires are talking. The fans are yelling for someone to take Sara off the field. Sara does not want to leave. A hero now enters into the story, Mallory Holtman from Central Washington. Mallory was playing first base and stood listening to Sara cry in pain. Mallory was a senior that year and was her team’s home-run queen. She really wanted her team to win so that they could move on to the league finals. You would think Mallory would be happy, in a round-about way that fate often delivers, to see that Sara could not make it home. Mallory was not!  Mallory asked the umpires if it would be okay if she and another teammate carried Sara around the bases.  The umpires agreed. Mallory signaled to her shortstop and the two came to Sara, who had tears rolling down her cheeks, and lifted Sara up.  Mallory and her teammate paused at second and third base to allow Sara’s good foot to touch each base.  The fans were cheering and crying at the same time. Sara made it safely home.

(Check out the Youtube of Sara’s fantastic home-run! … https://youtu.be/yaXVk5GBx-s)

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers (and sisters), love one another deeply, from the heart.

The sincere love of Jesus is what spurs each one of us on as we learn to understand what SINCERE love is. As we read our living word of life, may we be spurred onward. May we wake up each day and focus on LOVING ONE ANOTHER. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be writing a SEED OF FAITH about your sincere love!

“Father God, thank you for loving each one of us with a genuine and sincere love. Thank you for redeeming us. Thank you that you absorb and forgive our daily falls and fails. Now, as we pray, show us how to love one another. When we see someone who has stumbled, who has fallen face first in the dirt, give us Your sincere love. Help us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER sincerely—from the heart. This week open our eyes, our ears, our mind and heart and show us someone who needs a shoulder to lean on. Amen.”

Seed you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 6/15/19

Seed of Faith – Teflon Heart   By Pastor Dave  

““As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”  Colossians 3:12-13  

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 

Dear Faithful Friends, Family of God and Saintly Seed-Sowers:
Greetings to you as we approach “Father’s Day” and the beginning of the season of Summer! We’ve already have a few over 100 degree days! The hot days of Summer are here!

First, I’d like to apologize that I did not get a Seed of Faith out to you last week.  It was a rough week in my recovery from the chelation therapy.  The good news is that I am having more good days now than bad days.  Praise the Lord!

In our last “Seed of Faith” we studied how we are called to “bear with one another.” That sounds like something I do. Bear with one another. But what about what comes next?

“Forgive One Another, as the Lord has forgiven you.”

It takes a whole lot in order for us to forgive one another, doesn’t it?  It is true that we need to be kind, compassionate, meek, humble and patient with others. And it’s really good advice for us to clothe ourselves with these awesomely-terrific qualities. Thanks, Paul. But, you know what? It’s just not as easy as it sounds.

In the midst of these “one another” passages, I think we’ve finally run into one that we all struggle with: forgiveness. We do not do this “FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER” very well, and, yet, if we read God’s word, we are going to find it. In Matthew 6, Jesus gives us what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” Get it? The Lord’s prayer. Listen to what Jesus says in verse 12, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” How about verses 14 and 15? “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Couldn’t get much clearer than that, could it? And that’s not the Apostle Paul in all his wisdom and education speaking, this is God’s one and only Son speaking.

Why don’t we forgive one another? Could Paul have tried to shine a light on this subject for us? Is it because we forget to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience? I wonder.

I’m going to share a personal story here. It’s my wife’s story about a dream she had in July of 2012. I remember it vividly because when she woke up, she jumped out of bed at 6 a.m. If you know my wife, you know she isn’t a morning person.  She needs her cup of coffee and an hour of no talking in order to jump anywhere! Here’s her story:

I had just been through a crushing 7 week-experience where I was the one who had been thoroughly crushed. I was hurt, and angry. I blamed everyone for everything. I went to sleep on July 3rd asking God to help me do the unthinkable–forgive. What transpired that night was a dream so real that, when I woke up at 6 a.m. on July 4th, I jumped out of bed yelling, “My heart. My heart. I just had heart surgery!  I’m healed!”

My husband jumped out of bed. “Slow down. Are you dreaming?” I sat back down and regurgitated my dream. I didn’t want to miss a single detail of this great dream. By nature, I’m a dreamer. I dream a lot. In many of my dreams, a person (whom I’m very comfortable calling the Holy Spirit) comes alongside me and as I take his hand, I am jet-packed from this world into another world far away. I remember that as we flew, we soared above the earth and finally stopped at a huge cathedral type building. The inside of the building was glorious! Everything was white: the ceiling, the floor, the walls. The walls had veins of gold throughout them. The next thing I remembered, I was standing against the wall. “If you stay still, this won’t hurt one bit,” the voice spoke to my heart. I’m a wise person when it comes to hurt, so I stood still, very still. The Holy Spirit reached into my body and took my heart into His hands. I remember seeing something that resembled a beating heart in His hands only it was grotesquely blackish not red. And then up the Spirit went. That’s when I noticed pillar after pillar in row after row–all white, all extremely tall, and about 3′ in diameter. The Spirit started kneeding my heart; he appeared to be looking for something. My heart had the consistency of play-dough. “Look! What is this?” He pulled out a black rock–about 3-4″ in size. I knew what the rock was. The rock was one of my oldest grudges–all the way back to childhood. And so it started and one by one the Spirit kneeded rock after rock, showing each one to me. “What’s this one?” And with each rock, I knew exactly what had caused the grudge to start with. The spirit worked and worked until my heart held no other rocks. His heart spoke to my heart, “You are a good grudge-keeper. You are one of the best grudge keepers on earth. You are one of the best ever.” I knew it was true. I had tried and tried to forgive but I just didn’t know how. I’d forgive today and take it back tomorrow. And I had repeated that system for 50 years. “I’m so sorry. I’m trying to forgive. I just don’t know how to do it fully.” The Spirit never seemed mad or angry with me as I named my grudges one by one and after what felt like days, the Spirit flipped a switch on the top of the pillar and turned on the fire. My heart was turned and rotated. And then the Spirit started forming a new heart from my old, grudge-free heart. My new heart looked a giant, valentine-style heart. Next He dipped my heart into a black, goey solution from atop the pillar. I wondered why. It looked ugly.  “Teflon. Your new heart is dipped in teflon.” At that instant, the Spirit stopped the fire and started decorating my new heart with every precious thing the earth contained: diamonds, emeralds, amethysts, sapphires, rubies, garnets. Whatever precious stones there were, my new heart now displayed them all–added to the precious stones was gold, silver, platinum, titanium, copper and every beautiful metal ever created. I watched. The Spirit worked. By the end of our time, the Spirit held up the most beautiful heart I had ever seen. The Spirit then flew (jet packed is more like it) down to where I was waiting along the wall of white marble with veins of gold. He showed me my heart. As He placed my heart back into my body, He said, “I told you this wouldn’t hurt if you held still.” Then the Spirit did one last thing. He closed my body back up and then he lovingly touched my heart area and said (from His heart to my new heart), “Now…now you have a heart like HIM. Remember your teflon heart.  When someone hurts you now, just flick that hurt right off. Your heart is coated with teflon and cannot bury those grudges anymore.” He was happy and I was, well, let’s just say, “OVER THE MOON!”

And that’s when I jumped out of bed–6 am on July 4th. I was screaming, “I just had heart surgery! My heart! My heart! I am healed. I will never be the same.” And then I told Dave all about my TEFLON HEART.

Can you see that when my wife was ready to let go of her deep hurts, pain, betrayals and unforgiveness, she was truly free to forgive? Just as God had forgiven her, she was now able to forgive.

So What?
Wow. My wife, Jac, has truly never been the same since July 4th of 2012. You can find her these days flicking her grudges off from her teflon heart. You can find her flicking her offenses off her teflon heart. You can find her flicking her sorrow, hurt, pain, shame and guilt off of her teflon heart.  My wife was amused at what an extremely good “grudge holder” she was. She thought she was good, but she didn’t know exactly how good she was. What she learned from her Teflon heart dream is that God has already forgiven her. She is free. She is forgiven.

My wife and I go around talking about being transformed by God’s grace and love. Jac knows first hand what it means to give each grudge to God. Every grudge she’s ever held was removed from her heart that night. Her heart of stone was made into a heart of love, a heart like Jesus’.  As we close out our series on BEAR WITH ONE ANOTHER…let us take a moment to refresh our Scripture:

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:12-13

As you fall into bed tonight, if you find any rock-hard grudges in your heart, hand them over to God–one by one. Envision your heart being de-grudged. Envision your heart being coated in Teflon. Envision every precious metal and jewel decorating your heart–you know, your new heart that looks just like Christ’s?

SEED YOU SUNDAY!

God loves you with an inexorable love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 6/2/2018

Seed of Faith – Bear With One Another   By Pastor Dave  

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2.

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers:
Thank you for your prayers and support over the past 13 weeks of  my chelation. I feel as though I have turned the corner.  I’m having more good days than bad days.  Praise the Lord! My wife was right; she told me that week 13 I’d turn the corner and by week 16 this will all be a bad memory!  Week 16 coincides with my 65th birthday, so hurry up, Medicare AND week 16! Continuing on in the work of the faith, I do have a really good reason as to why I’m late getting this out this week: 1. The church bought a new laptop for me! Along with that, let’s just say I’ve been downloading for days, and learning a new computer. 2. I moved out of my “in home” office into the garage! As most of you know, the Lord blessed us last July with a new home in SOCAL! We bought the home with our youngest daughter, her husband and their three kids. And while it was great for me to have a home office, it bothered me to see the two “boys” head to their bedroom each night. The “boys” are now 6’1 and 6’3″, 185 pounds and 200. And so, I moved myself out into the garage (thanking God that I felt well enough) and moved one grandson into my old office.  Meanwhile, the two grands upstairs decided to also trade rooms. While I had visions of sitting in my garage and getting organized, I moved 3 grands rooms, the shed and the garage. Add to all of this the fact that our daughter had shoulder surgery, well, maybe consider this SEED OF FAITH a miracle instead of complaining about why it’s so late! Besides, I’m helping you learn to BEAR with one another as you learn to bear with me and my million excuses for being tardy!

We continue today with our series on the “ONE ANOTHER” passages found in the Bible.  Today we will look at humbling, yet powerful, words: “BEAR WITH ONE ANOTHER.”

Be honest now, what comes to your mind when you read or hear these four words? I asked my wife and she replied, “Do I have to?” I think we all have a little hesitation when it comes to this idea to bear with one another, to forgive one another, to be humble with one another, and to be patient with one another.

Bear with one another!
What comes just before this in our Scripture? Look it up.  Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Yes, today’s message is going to get personal as we learn how to bear with one another. I’ve already gone from preaching to meddling in four paragraphs.

The Apostle Paul writes, “Bear with one another in love.  Bear with one another and forgive one another as you have been forgiven.” As we “live together” as brothers and sisters in Christ, we get to know each other’s idiosyncrasies and we are faced with this challenge to “bear with one another in love.” When we are tempted to be impatient with one another, we need to think about Jesus Christ and His attitude toward us. Christ has forgiven us. Christ has also forgiven the one whom you are learning to bear with!

The Greek word for “bear” — ἀνέχομαι (anechomai) means to “endure, to have patience, to accept, to endure something unpleasant or difficult.” Did you hear that? Anechomai—endure with that person, have patience with that person, accept that person, and endure what’s unpleasant and difficult. HOW in the world are we supposed to DO this?

Here are a couple of ways that I have learned to “bear with one another.” And believe me, being in the ministry is often like being in the movie GROUND HOG’S DAY with Bill Murray. Just the other day, my wife and I were talking about how during the first 40 years of our lives, we never once received an anonymous letter telling us about all of our Christian faults. Nope. Not once. Once I went to seminary, the letters started coming. I’m not exactly sure about why but I have learned through these anonymous letters how to live Colossians and Ephesians. I think I best sum it up by saying: HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE.

The honest truth is, I do have my own weaknesses and idiosyncrasies that I ask others to bear with me. If I have them, I know that we all have them. I’ve come up with a list of practical questions that you can ask yourself:

1. What do I do (or not do) at home that irritates the people I live with?
2. What do I do (or not do) at church that irritates my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?
3. What do I do (or not do) at work and/or school that irritates my fellow employees and/or teachers and fellow students?
4. What do I do (or not do) that irritates the people that I associate with during the week? (You know, the outer circle of your life—sports, drama, the gym, the grocery store, TARGET—all those other places you go to during the week.)
5.  Do I expect more from others than I do from myself?
6.  Do I criticize others? Do I hold others to a higher standard than I hold myself to?

When I get one of those anonymous letters, I have to think of this list. Just because someone works in ministry doesn’t mean they have the heartbeat on being Christ-like. We are still sinners and we fail. When I get down to questions 5 and 6, I can understand that others hold me more accountable; they expect more from me than I can do, and it’s easy to criticize. After I received my third anonymous letter, I asked my Spiritual Director how to handle it. “Dave, when someone writes you an anonymous, critical letter, you file it. Under T for trash. The person is so hurt that they can’t even sign their name. Hurt people hurt and hurt people hurt people like you. The next thing you do is to forgive them and move on.” I’ve only received a handful of letters but I have found these six questions to be helpful and I’ve also found my mentor’s advice to be true.

Paul tells us that we need to clothe ourselves “with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

Forgive One Another, as the Lord has forgiven you. I’m so thankful for God’s forgiveness. I say, “I’m sorry” and I’m immediately forgiven by God. When Christ died on the cross, I believe He uttered, “IT IS FINISHED.” My sin crucified.  Your sin crucified. It’s a done deal. It is finished.

And yet it takes a whole, heck of a lot in order for us to bear with one another and to forgive one another. This is why I love the Colossians and the Ephesians verses.   We need to be kind, compassionate, meek, humble and patient with others. Did you hear what Paul wrote, “CLOTHE.” Clothe yourself with those awesomely terrific qualities.

Corrie ten Boom survived a Nazi concentration camp during WW2. She has written and shared many of her stories of forgiveness.  She shared about meeting one of the guards from the same prison camp where her sister died, where she was held during the war.  The guard had come to hear her speak. I’ve used this illustration before. Do you remember? The guard asked Corrie to forgive him. He stuck out his hand and said, “FORGIVE me.” It took her a moment, but she did take his hand, and she did say that she forgave him. (“Tramp for the Lord”)

“I wish I could say after a long and fruitful life traveling the world, I had learned to forgive all my enemies. I wish I could say that merciful and charitable thoughts just naturally flowed from me and on to others. But they don’t. There is one thing I’ve learned since I’ve passed my eightieth birthday, it’s that I can’t store up good feelings and behavior—but only draw them fresh from God each day.

Maybe I’m glad it’s that way, for every time I go to Him, He teaches me something else. I recall the time—and I was almost seventy—when some Christian friends whom I loved and trusted did something which hurt me. You would have thought that, having been able to forgive the guards in Ravensbruck, forgiving Christian friends would be child’s play. It wasn’t. For weeks I seethed inside. But at last I asked God again to work His miracle in me. And again it happened: first, the cold-blooded decision, then the flood of joy and peace. I had forgiven my friends; I was restored to my Father. Then, why was I suddenly awake in the middle of the night, rehashing the whole affair again? ‘They were my friends!’ I thought. ‘People I loved. If it had been strangers, I wouldn’t have minded so. I sat up and switched on the light. ‘Father, I thought it was all forgiven. Please help me do it…again.’ The next night I woke up again. “They’d talked so sweetly, too! Never a hint of what they were planning.’ ‘Father!’ I cried in alarm. ‘Help me!’

Then it was that another secret of forgiveness became evident. It is not enough to simply say, “\’I forgive you.’ I must also begin to live it out. And in my case, that meant acting as though their sins, like mine, were buried in the depths of the deepest sea. If God could remember them no more—and He had said, “[Your] sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17)—then neither should I. And the reason the thoughts kept coming back to me was that I kept turning their sin over in my mind.

And so I discovered another of God’s principles: We can trust God not only for emotions but also for our thoughts. As I asked Him to renew my mind, He also took away my thoughts.  He still had more to teach me, however, even from this single episode. Many years later, after I had passed my eightieth birthday, an American friend came to visit me in Holland. As we sat in my little apartment in Baarn, he asked me about those people from long ago who had taken advantage of me. ‘It is nothing,’ I said a little smugly. ‘It is all forgiven.’ ‘By you, yes,’ he said. ‘But what about them? Have they accepted your forgiveness?’ ‘They say there is nothing to forgive! They deny it ever happened. No matter what they say, though, I can prove they were wrong.’ I went eagerly to my desk. ‘See, I have it in black and white!I saved all their letters and I can show you where…’
‘Corrie!’ My friend slipped his arm through mine and gently closed the drawer. ‘Aren’t you the one whose sins are at the bottom of the sea? Yet are the sins of your friends etched in black and white?’

For an astonishing moment I could not find my voice. ‘Lord Jesus,’ I whispered at last, ‘who takes all my sins away, forgive me for preserving all these years the evidence against others! Give me grace to burn all the blacks and whites as a sweet-smelling sacrifice to Your glory.’

I did not go to sleep that night until I had gone through my desk and pulled out those letters—curling now with age—and fed them all into my little coal-burning grate. As the flames leaped and glowed, so did my heart. ‘Forgive us our trespasses,’ Jesus taught us to pray, ‘as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ In the ashes of those letters I was seeing yet another facet of His mercy. What more He would teach me about forgiveness in the days ahead I didn’t know, but tonight’s was good news enough.

Forgiveness is the key which unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. The forgiveness of Jesus not only takes away our sins, it makes them as if they had never been.”[i]

So What? WOW. That’s “so what!” You may or may not know that these SEEDS OF FAITH come from my Sunday messages. When I preached this message, I added that maybe you were holding onto something like Corie. Maybe it isn’t a letter, maybe it’s a gift that you begrudge. Maybe it’s an email or a text that you can trace back from here to kingdom come. After I was done preaching this message, I had three people walk up and tell me that they were going to take care of business. One woman deleted several emails, one woman deleted a text thread, and one woman gave away a precious gift that she loved but had been terribly hurt by the giver since. You know what? Not one of these people has told me that they regretted their actions. Matter of fact, they all agreed that they feel freer than they did before.

What do these ancient words of life have for us to hear and learn today?

Bear with one another through the kindness and compassion that God has given us.  Remember to ask yourself some of those thought-provoking questions above. Maybe it’s time to shred those emails, texts, cards,  or letters you have been holding onto. Maybe it is time to give away that precious, priceless gift that every time you see it, you teeter between sadness, sorrow, or shame.

Many years ago, my wife read a book about downsizing. We’ve been downsizing since 2010. Recently she shared her thoughts with me:  Start by making three piles– KEEP, GIVE AWAY, TRASH. And when you come to those things that you’re not sure about, ask yourself this question, “Does this thing bring me joy or take my joy away?” If it brings me joy, I can keep it or give it away. If it takes my joy, I give it away to the Salvation Army.”

Today’s message is for you:  Let go and forgive! Remember to forgive as the Lord has already and completely forgiven you. First, CLOTHE YOURSELF WITH THE GOOD STUFF: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Once you’re clothed, bear with one another. It’s much easier to do once you remember the compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience of the cross.

SEED YOU SUNDAY!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 5/24/19

Seed of Faith – Appreciate and Accept One Another  By Pastor Dave  

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:5-7 ESV

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers!

May you all have a glorious and wonderful Memorial Weekend.  May we stop and remember those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom and may God bring to your remembrance how you were first accepted and welcomed by God.

We are going to make one more run down the road of grace; we are going to finally bring home this simple, yet often difficult, idea of what it means to welcome, accept, appreciate and gather together one another.

Recently I read a story about a speaker who gave a motivational talk. There were 200 people in the audience and he began by holding up a $20.00 dollar bill.  The speaker asked who would like to have the $20 dollar bill.  Almost all the hands went up immediately. The speaker then proceeded crumple up the $20 dollar bill.  Then he asked who would like the crumpled 20 dollar bill and most of the hands went up.  Then the speaker dropped the $20 on the floor and stomped on it and ground the 20 dollar bill into the ground with his shoe. He picked it up and held up the crumpled, dirty $20 bill. “Who still wants this crumpled, dirty $20 bill.”  All hands went up in the air.  The speaker said, “My friends, you have learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still a $20 dollar bill.”  

The truth is that many times in our life we’ve been dropped, crumpled up, stepped on and gotten pretty dirty. Adversity, trials, tribulations, tensions, temptations and many sins entangle us and cause us to stumble, crumble and fall. In turn we begin to feel worthless. Maybe there are others who also judge us to be worthless. I want you to hear and know and believe the good news:  no matter what happens to you, you will never lose your value in God’s eyes. Dirty or clean, finely pressed or crumpled up. smooth and shiny, or cracked and chipped, you are always priceless in God’s eyes. The Bible is filled with scripture after scripture that affirm our worth. Here is one of my favorites found in Psalm 115:12, “The Lord REMEMBERS us and will bless us…Hhe will bless those who fear the Lord, small and great alike!” This past week has not been an easy week, I’ve felt a little crumpled up and stepped on. The truth is that no matter what someone else may say about you, please be true to who you are in Christ. In the end, we will understand that we are not people pleasers, we are God pleasers.

We’ve  been looking at the ONE ANOTHER passages in the bible.  For three weeks, we’ve studied about what it means to WELCOME ONE ANOTHER, to ACCEPT ONE ANOTHER, and to APPRECIATE ONE ANOTHER. I encourage you to take read Romans 15:1-7 over this next week. Find some quiet time and ask God to show you who you really are and how you can appreciate, accept and welcome one another.

So What?
In January of 1998 I accepted my first position in ordained ministry. I was the Senior, and only, pastor in a small church in Missouri. I didn’t go in to do anything different or to change things up.  They had persevered through a hard trial and said they were ready for a new pastor. My wife and I loved the area, and we thought we’d live there forever. Growing up in a small farm town near Chicago, we were familiar with buying our meat from an area butcher. We found a local butcher and began filling our freezer with all kinds of pork and beef and chicken–and even deer. I don’t know if you know this about me but I tend to be a relationship junky. People are my hobby as well as reading. No matter where we’ve lived, I’ve made friends with our postman, our pizza guy, our banker, our grocery clerks, our barbers and on and on down the line. Many of these people are still my friends to this day. As fate would have it, I made friends with the butcher, his wife and daughter. Before too long, they were attending church and inviting others who frequented their butcher shop to join them. I really liked this family. (By the way, they were from California and had moved to Missouri to escape the freeways and to live a simpler life.)

These people loved the Lord with all of their hearts. They never missed a Sunday, they brought their own bibles to church with them, they came to the Sunday morning Bible Study that I led and, every once in a while, the butcher hollered out, “AMEN, pastor” as I preached. They were lovely people.

One day, about a year in to my arrival, I was invited to the doctor’s house for lunch. The doctor and his wife provided a wonderful lunch and great fellowship. After lunch, they told me that they needed to share something with me. A group from the church had asked the doctor and his wife to share with us that the butcher and his family were nice enough people, but they were from the wrong side of town and they didn’t belong at our church. I suppose my face said it all because the doctor continued. He pointed to the fancy, china place-setting of our lunch. “Look, pastor, there’s a plate, a napkin, a glass, and utensils here. Every one of these things represents a separate church. All of the plates in town go to the plate church.  All of the glasses go to the glass church. Let’s just say our church is the folded napkin church and all of the nicely folded napkins go to this napkin church.” As he spoke, I noticed that my napkin had been used and I had left it unfolded on the table. I took my napkin and asked if it belonged in the folded napkin church. To this very day, I remember the look on his face as  he said, “Pastor, this napkin doesn’t belong because it isn’t folded like the rest of the other napkins. It needs to go to the crumpled up napkin church.” He seemed relieved that I was getting his point.

“Wait!” I said. “What if Jesus works in this crumpled up napkin’s life and makes it square, and folded again? Can it come to the church of the square, folded napkins?” The doctor and his wife looked at each other and then they looked at me. “No, pastor, no they can’t. They’re too different.” That very next Sunday, during Adult Sunday School—a group of 30 members walked in and said they wanted to have a members only meeting. All of the non-members left and the meeting started. The main goal of this meeting was for me to take the list of the people they didn’t like so that I could go ask them to stop coming to our church and go to another church. I was truly dumb founded. I remember looking at the people in the circle of chairs.  They passed me their list. I looked at them and said, “Church is supposed to be open to anyone. Jesus calls the people in. We are to welcome and love those He calls. I’m sorry but I cannot do as you ask.”

It was a rocky road for the next six months. I called in the executive board from our denomination. We had meeting after meeting. After several months of trying to reconcile this situation, the executive board’s forecast was that I should leave because the people weren’t budging. I was broken-hearted as I found my way to my office to pick up my car keys and briefcase. As I opened the door, take one guess as to who was sitting in my chair praying for me? The butcher. He said he heard about the meetings and that he wanted to come and pray for me.  He told me that he would leave the church if I wanted him to go.  All because the butcher and his family were from the north side of town and the church was on the south side.

I’m still friends with the butcher and his wife and his family and that was 21 years ago. Matter of fact, the butcher was the one who said, “Go west, pastor, you were made for California.” Wise advice from a wise man. Twenty years ago, I felt like a total failure as I searched for a new call. I’d been crumpled up, stepped on and ground into the dirt on this first mission trip of ordained ministry. Yet the ONE who created me never gave up on me. He breathed life into my heart as He took my crumpled up mess of a napkin and ironed it back out into a square, folded one!

As long as I live I will never forget the lesson the real church of the folded napkin taught me:
Accept One Another, welcome one another, receive one another, take along one another as a companion, and gather together. That’s why I wanted to spend three weeks on accepting one another, on welcoming one another. I think Fred Rogers was right when he said,  “When we look for what’s best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does; so in appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.”

This is your SO WHAT? Homework for the week:  No matter where you go, look for the best in the person you’re with. This is how Christ lived his life, looking for the best in the people he was with. And remember that no matter what you have done, no matter where you’ve gone, no matter how crumpled up and stepped on you are–when you turn back to God, you are accepted. You are welcome. You are received. You are taken along as Christ’s companion. You are gathered together under His wings–no exceptions.

I saw Jesus in that butcher that night as I opened the door to my office. I was utterly defeated. I was a failure in my first church call. The butcher and I prayed that night. We prayed and we prayed and we prayed. That was the night I learned one of the most important lessons of my ministry:
1.  there is never a wrong time to do the right thing   and 2. all a crumpled napkin ever needs is the love of Jesus.

When we welcome one another, we welcome Christ, for the glory of God. You are loved. More than you could ask or imagine, you are loved! “May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 115:14-15

Seed 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.

Weekly Seed of Faith Blog 5/18/19

Seed of Faith – Welcome One Another  By Pastor Dave  

So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!”
Romans 15:7 The Message Bible

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers:
Greetings in the love and grace of God.

I hope and pray that you are doing well and being blessed by the Lord. It is a joy and blessing to hear so many responses to the Seed of Faith each week.  Your responses are a great opportunity for me to connect with you and to pray for you.  Thank you for your prayers and support, especially during the past several months. I have been going through my chelation treatments and just finished my last round of drugs. My body is now fighting to overcome the chelation chemicals.  My wife cheers me on each day, “By mid-June, you will feel so much better!” Til then, I covet your prayers.

Last week we looked at Romans 15:1-7 for the first time in our “One Another” series. I encourage you to take the time and read our scripture. I used a different version this week from the late Eugene Peterson’s Message Bible.  He was a phenomenal writer and pastor, and had a way of looking at the scriptures and putting them into our English language so that we can understand them better. In last week’s SEED OF FAITH, I shared the story about a mission trip to Mexico and also shared a wonderful quote from Mister Rogers, “When we look for what’s best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does; so in appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.”

Last week we looked at the idea of accepting one another. This week we will look at accepting one another. The Greek word for “accept” is “προσλαμβάνω proslambanō’ and it means, “to receive, to welcome, to take along as a companion, or to gather together.” WELCOME ONE ANOTHER.

Jesus taught acceptance.  He ate with tax collectors and sinners.  He went out to the sick and broken.  Jesus welcomed the outcasts. Jesus does the same for us. Have you ever stopped to think that Jesus has accepted us? Jesus receives us as we are, welcomes us as we are. Takes us along as His companion, and gathers together with us without fail. We are accepted and welcomed by our Lord.

This pauses me to question myself?  Why don’t I receive, accept, welcome, gather together, take along as a companion—the others I meet along the way? Jesus does. So should I.

I would like to share a personal story that has touched my life. May we all learn to welcome and accept others as Christ has welcomed and accepted us.

When I lived in Rochelle, a young, vibrant girl from our church went on vacation to Canada with her family. We knew the family well. Mary was 13. During their trip, Mary got bit by a mosquito that infected her brain with encephalitis. Mary had been a normal junior high girl who made great grades. That summer, everything changed for Mary. Mary now faced the daily challenges of dealing with a partially paralyzed body. Overnight Mary’s life had changed. One thing about Mary never changed, her joy and her cheerfulness and her beautiful smile. My wife and Mary became fast friends. Mary had learned how to ride a bike and soon she became a daily visitor in our home. Mary would stop by to tell my wife where she going, what she was doing. Mary always wanted to pray, so they prayed. For 20 years, Jac and Mary had a wonderful friendship. Mary loved the lord Jesus with all of her heart, soul and mind, and she told everyone about Him! Mary was the kind of person who radiated the love and acceptance of Jesus. She never met a person she didn’t like!  After 20 years of calling Mary her BFF, we entered the ministry life and left Rochelle. My wife prayed hard for Mary to find another BFF and she did–right around the corner from where we lived. Every time we went back to Rochelle for a visit, we could count on finding Mary at church and, later, on our doorstep. We talked about the “good old days” and we cried and laughed and prayed together. Mary had become independent enough through the years to move into an apartment of her own and had us over for tea whenever we were “back home.” And, as God would have it, the years marched on. Mary had fallen gravely ill. We went back home and drove over to her apartment. Her family told us that Mary was close to death, and that she was unresponsive and had been for a day. As we knelt down on the floor by her bed, we took her hand in ours, and spoke to our friend. We told her how much we loved her. We thanked her for being who she was and for the many happy visits we had received from her over the years. We knew she was ready to meet Jesus. After we prayed, we stood up and saw crocodile tears rolling down her cheeks. She had heard us. She knew we had come to say good bye. Later that day Mary passed into the heavenly kingdom and was now BFF with Jesus. The one who had welcomed and accepted every single person she had ever met was now welcomed and accepted by Christ.

Why do I tell you this story? Because not everyone in town accepted or welcomed Mary. Mary was different. Mary cried a lot and laughed a lot. I share this story because Mary did one thing very well: she accepted and welcomed everyone she ever met. She didn’t care who you were, or what you did. And every time Mary left you on her bike, she would always smile, wave, and say, “Remember, Jesus loves you and so do I.” And off she would go to spread the love, the joy, the kindness of Christ with our little town. She was something sacred and special. She always looked for the best in every single person she met.

“When we look for what’s best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does; so in appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.”

(I also tell you this story because I want you to know that when you are standing by the bedside of someone who is gravely ill, they may not be able to respond to you but they can still hear you. Speaking words of love to them can be one of your last acts of kindness before they leave our world.)

So what?
Next week we will continue to learn how to accept and welcome one another. I have another great story to share with you. This week, work on looking for the best in the people you are with. That’s your homework: Accept One Another. Welcome one another. Receive one another. Take along one another as a companion. Gather together with one another.
No matter where you go, look for the best in the people you’re with. This is how Christ lived: looking for the best in the people he was with.

It’s truly a sacred thing to do.

Seed you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love.    Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701  

Weekly Seed of Faith 5/2/19

Seed of Faith – Submit to One Another   By Pastor Dave  

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers!

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.  I pray that you know that God has you in His strong and loving grip of grace.  I also pray that you learn to rest in this everlasting love!

Over the past few weeks, we have been looking at what I call “The One Another Principles.”  We have been looking at and reflecting on the “One Another”passages in the Bible.

We have looked at:

“Greet One Another,”
“Honor One Another”
“Be Devoted to One Another” and
“Serve One Another.”

Today we tackle a tough subject, “SUBMIT TO ONE ANOTHER.”

Here are a few passages of Scripture to set the stage and to give us ground to build upon.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Romans 13:1

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. I Peter 2:12-17

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:21

Today we tackle a tough subject:
Submit —
Submit to God. Submit to authorities. Submit to one another. Husbands Submit to God — Wives Submit to Husband — Husband Submit  to Wives and God — Children Submit to Parents — Employees Submit to your Employers — Students Submit to your Teachers — Teachers Submit to your Administrators — Brothers and Sisters Submit to Brothers and Sisters!  Do you get the picture?!  Submit!  We are called to submit!

Let’s go straight to the Greek word for submit: ὑποτάσσω hupotassō which means to place or rank under, to subject, to obey.”  Place yourself under one another. Rank under one another. Obey one another. If you haven’t gone to see the movie BREAKTHROUGH, please do. Everyone has trouble learning to SUBMIT…to God…and to one another.

Who here likes to submit? Who wakes up in the morning thinking, “I sure hope there’s a rash of submission happening in my life today?” “There isn’t anything I love more than submitting.” Yet, we all know that true freedom is often found when we finally do submit.

When J. Wilbur Chapman, American evangelist, was in London, he had an opportunity to meet General Booth, who at that time was past eighty years of age. General Booth started the Salvation Army. Dr. Chapman listened reverently as the old general spoke of the trials and the conflicts and the victories. The American evangelist then asked the general if he would disclose his secret for success. “He hesitated a second,” Dr. Chapman said, “and I saw the tears come into his eyes and steal down his cheeks, and then he said, ‘I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I, men with greater opportunities; but from the day I got the poor of London on my heart, and a vision of what Jesus Christ could do with the poor of London, I made up my mind that God would have all of William Booth there was. And if there is anything of power in the Salvation Army today, it is because God has all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life.'” Dr. Chapman said he went away from that meeting with General Booth knowing “that the greatness of a man’s power is found in the measure of his surrender.”[i]

George Mueller, Christian evangelist and director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, used to say that he first asked and then settled the questions concerning any proposed measure: “Is this the Lord’s work?” “Is this the Lord’s way?” “Is this the Lord’s time? Sounds like pretty good wisdom to me.

So What?
Every one of us has a decision to make when we come face to face with the cross. Did you know that? You can’t just face the cross and stand there—either you will knee or bow in total submission or you will stand there and walk away. Submission is a personal thing. A choice we each get faced with daily. Will we submit, or will we demand our own way? Will I submit to God each day? Or will I choose to go it alone?  Frank Sinatra’s “MY WAY” comes to mind.

The bible statisticians have developed a formula. The stats are that God normally pursues a person in 7 different attempts in order to capture our heart, soul, mind and life. I remember when I accepted Jesus. I was 12 just days away from my 13th birthday. My oldest brother had just been killed in a car accident. The people who came to the funeral home all said, “You’ll see Gary again…in heaven.”  I asked my Nanny how. How could I be sure I’d see my brother again?  My Nanny told me all about Jesus. I wanted more than anything to see my brother again and to be reunited with him.  I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I was going to heaven! I would see my brother again. But deep inside there lurked an anger within my heart, and while I had what you call “FIRE INSURANCE”…I started to live like hell. I started drinking at 13. During the next ten years, God tried many times to capture my heart. Here’s my own words, I kept Jesus as my savior in my back pocket—like a lucky rabbit’s foot hanging from my belt loop. When I was really afraid, or sad, I would remember that one day I would see my brother again. I finished junior high and and high school and I went off to college nine hours from home to a little town called Kirksville, MO. I joined a fraternity—and I’m pretty sure that was NOT God trying to capture my heart! I met this beautiful girl from St. Louis and I pursued her. On our first date, I picked up on a stolen tricycle (which I returned.) We stopped the little creek that ran through campus and I retrieved the six pack of beer I had keeping cold. That brown-eyed beauty said, “My dad is going to kill you when he finds out.” I asked her where her dad was. St. Louis?  That’s four hours away–we have plenty of time. I pursued this young lady and we got married. At our wedding, we chose the song, FOLLOW ME by John Denver.  Little did I know that this was God’s calling on our marriage. “Follow me, where I go, what I do, who I know. Take my hand and say you’ll follow me.” During the first 7 years (huh, 7?)  of our marriage, I lived a hard life. During this time, my wife, accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.  She tried to tell me all about Him and how Jesus had captured her heart.  She had submitted to God. During the 7th year of our marriage, my wife brought me to a couple’s bible study. My favorite high school teacher was leading it, so I went. On a cold winter’s night in January, I rededicated my life to God—I accepted Jesus as my LORD and my SAVIOR. I got down on my knees and I submitted. I submitted my heart, I submitted my life.  Pretty soon I was going to church with my wife and kids—and nothing made my Nanny happier. I became a leader in the church and led many youth to Christ. I made one of those grace weekends you always hear about. I got a cross and one Sunday my Nanny pulled it out of my shirt and said, “David, this cross means you are going to become a pastor.” My hero, my Nanny, died that week.  I’ll never forget the look on her face when she told me I was going to become a pastor.

Surrender isn’t giving up something you don’t want … It’s giving up what you do want.
 
Victory isn’t walking across the goal line …It’s struggling through opposition to the goal.

Trust isn’t going just where the lights are … It’s following through the dark valleys.
 

Love isn’t giving when others are giving … It’s giving when others are not giving.

Faith isn’t overflowing to others … It’s emptying itself to others.
P.L Tan

Our lesson for today is two-fold. First, God wants us to submit our heart to Him. Second, God wants us to live a life of harmony with one another. God wants us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

God used a really hard season of my life in order to pursue me. Finally, when I could run away no more, I faced the cross. And instead of turning and running the other direction, I faced that cross because I knew that Jesus Christ had died for me. God had put me into His tumbler and  tumbled away most of the rough edges so that I could live in harmony with others and submit.

My hero, my Nanny died in 1986. I chuckled that she thought my cross meant I’d become a pastor….until 1992 when I felt the call of God on my life. It took a little over ten years but in 1997 I was ordained into full-time ministry as a pastor. The hound of heaven had pursued me.

One of our church members gave us a sign when we moved into our new home. When my wife opened it, she said, “I know the perfect place for this.” She hung it above the window in our bedroom. The sign reads, “In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.” It’s the first thing we see as we begin each new day.

So What?  Have you stood and faced the cross? Have you surrendered? Or are you still singing, “My Way”? If you are still singing, I’m praying for the hound of heaven to find you. I’m praying that you will learn to submit out of your deep respect for what Christ did for you on the cross. Once I submitted to Christ, I understood the tapping on my head at the funeral home, “You’ll see Gary again.” I fought that. I let my anger control many bad choices. I tried my hardest to do it my way. In the end, I stood, yet again, at that empty cross. I was tired of walking away. I was tired of hurting people that I loved. There had to be a better way. That January night, after hearing Romans 8, I submitted my heart and my life to Christ. Nothing’s ever been the same.

It’s my prayer for you.

SEED YOU SUNDAY

God loves you with and everlasting love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 4/27/19

Seed of Faith – Serve One Another   By Pastor Dave  

“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?” Galatians 5:13-15 The Message Bible

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:

We made it! Lent is history and Easter is still a mystery! The tomb is empty and Jesus is alive! Hallelujah!

I have to be honest with you, sometimes the church calendar feels more like a glacier than a calendar! We move from Advent to Christmas to Lent to Easter and, to be honest with you, us pastors are nothing but exhausted! Keep praying for your pastor.  Right about now they can use a text, an email, a phone call, a slap on the back that says, “Hallelujah! YOU MADE IT! The tomb is empty, Pastor! Jesus is alive…and YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT!”

Today we come to another “One Another” statement found in  the Scripture!  We have looked at “Greet One Another,”  “Be Devoted to One Another,” “Honor One Another,” and “Live in Harmony with One Another!” 

When I started working on this sermon series, the Lord put it on my heart to seek His understanding of what “One Another” meant from His perspective.  It hit me this week, and not just the chelation cycle 4 of 5.  What hit me were the thoughts of how my life, our family, the church, our schools, and work places would change if only we understood the principles of “one another.” What would happen is we greeted one another each day? What would happen if we were devoted to our spouse, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, schools and churches? What would happen is we honored others and chose to live in harmony with one another?

Our Scripture for today is written by the Apostle Paul and he wrote it to the church in Galatia and Ephesus.  The Galatian church was struggling with legalism and the Ephesian church was needing encouragement.  What’s Paul’s answer? SERVE ONE ANOTHER.

When you hear the word “serve,” what comes to your mind?  When I thought about the word “serve” a bunch of questions flashed across my brain.  How well do I serve? Who or what do I serve? When do I serve? How do I serve? What is my attitude when I serve? Why do I serve? How much should I serve?  “You, my brothers (and sisters), were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love Galatians 5:13

Here’s a fun game. Rate yourself from 0 to 10 (zero is the lowest) with a scorecard. Here are the questions. (I’m going from preaching to meddling now.)

·      How well do I serve?

·         How well do I serve others?

·         How well do I serve my spouse?

·         How well do I serve my children?

·         How well do I serve my co-workers?

·         How well do I serve my church?

I find it interesting that one of the Greek words for “serve” is “doulos.” Duolos is translated as “slave or servant.” Are you a slave or a servant in your serving? (Hey, I told you I went from preaching to meddling!) There are four basic words in the New Testament that are translated “serve,” “servant,” or “serving.” All of these words have one basic concept.  The concept of serving. The words serve, servant, slave, serving are used over 300 times with 130 of those times in the Gospels and Acts, and approximately 170 times in the Epistles. This averages out to have the word “serve” used 10 times in each book of the New Testament. The two words that are used the most frequently are douleo and diakoneo. Douleo literally means “to be a slave, to serve, to obey, to submit.” It’s used in both a good and bad sense. On the positive side, the word douleo means to serve God and others in the context of Christian love. On the negative side, douleo means to become a slave to a base power. For example, in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, he taught that we can be “slaves to sin.” Romans 6:6

Diakoneo literally means “table waiter or servant.”  We get the words deacon or minister from diakoneo. Think about having a really terrific table waiter at dinner. Your table waiter can literally make or break your meal time. A really great table waiter has to have some sort of mental list that they go by: introduce yourself, tell them about the specials, get their drink order. Come back with their drink orders and see if they have any questions or if they are ready to order. Bring their order out and serve them with a happy heart and smile. Bring their ticket but tell them there’s no hurry.  Yes.  You got it–that is exactly what we’re supposed to be like in our families, in our employment, in our schools, in our churches. We’re supposed to be really great table waiters. Are you? Are you a really good table waiter?

So who or what do you serve?  How do you serve?  Do you serve yourself before you serve others? Do you serve God? Do you serve money?  Jesus told His follower in The Sermon on the Mount that we cannot serve two masters. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”  Matthew 6:24

When James and John’s mother came to Jesus and asked if her two sons could sit on the right and the left of Jesus when he came into His Kingdom, Jesus responded with a powerful statement of servanthood. “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28 These are powerful words!  If you want to be first, you need to be a slave!  Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve.

Here’s the question put just a little differently: HOW’S YOUR SERVE?

When my family lived in Rochelle, Illinois, I worked in the Goodyear tire business and GMC truck business during the week and served our church as co-youth pastors with my wife.  During the 18 years we served as youth pastors, we helped to organize at least 9 “Go-N-Serve” mission trips for our youth.  Every other year we would choose a location and raise our funds and we would take the youth on a “Go-N-Serve” Mission. These mission trips were a time to teach the youth how to serve others and for them to experience more about God and living in community with others.  We’ve visited Colorado, Florida, Missouri, North Dakota, Vermont and all the states in between. A Go-N-Serve mission trip consisted of our  youth group serving and working for a week. We did many different jobs: we worked in old cemeteries refurbishing them, we worked in retreat camps restoring, in Florida we worked with Habitat for Humanity building homes. Every other year, 20-40 teenagers signed up to “GO AND SERVE” and an additional ten to twelve adults loaded up and traveled with us.  We were gone for 10-14 days. We drove out in vans and camped along the way. Once we arrived at our work site, we wanted to teach the youth that serving is an opportunity for them to give back.  It was an opportunity for them to learn how to serve one another with a cheerful heart. Our work days consisted of working from 8 am until early afternoon. They then had the rest of the day to rest or play and, almost always, a lake, river, or ocean were involved in their leisure time. Night time was group time—time to talk about our day and have devotions to close out the night.

On one of our trips, we were headed from Chicago to Vermont. We spent the week restoring and renovating a camp ground and retreat center.  The kids stayed in cabins along the lake. On our way to Camp Wilmot, we stopped for the night outside of Buffalo, New York.  We had arrived too late to set up camp and cook dinner for 40 people, so we decided to set up camp and go into town for pizza. We set up all the tents and headed into town. When we arrived back to the camp, we found a mess. All of our tents had been knocked down.  When the youth started checking their tents and belongings, they found toothpaste squeezed into their pillows and sleeping bags, and all their belongings had been tossed all around.  To say the least, everyone was really upset.  I went to the camp host and explained what had happened.  The host said that the winds coming off Lake Erie were really powerful.  It could even have been a mini-tornado.  I asked the man if the winds knew how to open toothpaste and squeeze it out into sleeping bags.  The host looked at me blankly. The camp was called Mini-tonka…but we began calling it “the Winds of Mini HaHa.”

It turned out that the camp host had several teenage children and they had been sitting on the ledges by the bathrooms when we were setting up. We were pretty sure they were the culprits.  Some of our youth football players wanted to go over and pick a fight with them to get even.  I sat the kids down and led a campfire devotion on becoming a servant and serving one another. We had a long discussion that night on forgiveness and grace.  The kids asked if we could invite the teenage culprits over to join us for smores and stories. As the evening began to unfold, the camp kids told our youth that they were sorry, they had torn up our campsites. Our youth told the boys that they were forgiven. We left the next day but we promised to come stay there on our way home. When we arrived after our week of serving in Vermont, the boys had our fire ready and smores waiting. Serving is an opportunity to grow.

“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?” Galatians 5:13-15 The Message Bible

Your “so what” challenge this week is for you to look and see someone you can serve.  Make a mental note of this idea and try to serve one person each day.  See how your life will be changed.  See how the life of the person you serve will be changed.

I know several people right here in our church who chose this idea as their Lenten project. Each day they looked for the opportunity to serve. My wife said my message on serving one another had to be a hit because every Sunday she is now bombarded with people stopping by JESUS CLASS asking, “How can I help?” Being a church that is stored inside a trailer during the week, Miss Jac packs up at least 8 rollers, and 4 huge bins each Sunday. And, now, people are strolling through JESUS CLASS asking, “What can I bring to the curb for you?”

GET YOUR SCORECARDS READY. Zero means you are a very poor table waiter.  Five means you are an average table waiter. Six to ten means you’re going to get a 20% tip someday!

·         How well do I serve?

·         How well do I serve others?

·         How well do I serve my spouse?

·         How well do I serve my children?

·         How well do I serve my co-workers?

·         How well do I serve my church?

Seed you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 8/1/19

Seed of Faith – I BELIEVE GOD THE FATHER   By Pastor Dave  

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Hebrews 12:1-3

Dear Faithful Friends and Fantastic Seed-Sowers:
Greetings in the grace and love of God! Our series on “LOVE ONE ANOTHER” has ended and we are now going into our “What We Believe” series. As I pray and seek the Lord for what to preach on, I’m often overwhelmed with thoughts like, “I’ve been preaching for 20 years. I’ve preached almost a thousand messages. What is left, Lord?” And just when I seriously cannot think of one more thing, a crevice to a sacred cave opens with, what I’m sure is Holy Spirit wisdom, and I start wondering again. “What is the Apostles’ Creed? When was it created? Who wrote it? Why did they write it?” And pretty soon a whole, new series opens up and I’m off down another series’ trail. Today we begin a series that I’ve called “I BELIEVE.” Our series is based upon the Apostles’ Creed.

Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell
The third day he rose again from the dead
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead
I believe in the Holy Ghost
I believe a holy catholic church; the communion of saints
The forgiveness of sins
The resurrection of the body
And the life everlasting. Amen.[i]

The Apostles’ Creed gets its name from the Apostles who followed Jesus — Peter, Andrew, James & John, Matthew, Thomas and the rest.  One tradition believes each disciple was responsible for one line in the Creed, however, most scholars do not believe that.  The earliest reference of the Apostles’ Creed is found around the middle of the 2nd century — around 140 A.D. Roughly a little over 100 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.   The earliest written form of the creed is found in a letter that Marcellus of Ancyra wrote in Greek to Julius, the bishop of Rome, about 341. Fifty years later, Tyrannius Rufinus wrote a commentary on this creed in Latin.[i]

We have in our possession the writings of a document that is at least 1,879 years old!  Stop and ponder the millions of people who have recited this creed throughout the years.  When we say the Apostles’ Creed, we are not just expressing our own faith or what we believe, we are joining our voices with the great cloud of witnesses from across the centuries—people from every tribe and nation, people who love Christ.

For the early church, the Apostles’ Creed was known as “The Rule of Truth” or “The Rule of Faith” “rugula fidei” in the Latin or Roman world at the time. This “Rule of Faith” was not to replace Scripture or supersede Scripture in any way but was used to corroborate, verify, validate and teach the Scriptures.

Honestly, what could happen in our world today if we all went back to teaching “The Rule of Truth” or “The Rule of Faith” –the Apostles’ Creed?  Like the guy in the movie THE PRINCESS BRIDE says, “Inconceivable.”

The Latin word for “creed” is Credo and it literally means “I BELIEVE.” The Apostles’ Creed is a statement of what the apostles believed.

Our “SO WHAT?” questions comes early today:   What do you believe?  Who do you believe?  Why do you believe? How do you believe?

It is my prayer that, as we go through this series, we will come to know what we believe and why we believe what we believe.

The truth is that we all believe in something. The Atheist who says there is no God is stating their belief–I believe there is no god.  The Buddhist believes in Budda, the Hindu believes in Carma, the Muslim believe in Allah. Every man-made religion has its own beliefs and practices.

Teaching time: The word “believe” is used 253 times in the New Testament and another 30 times in the Old Testament.  “Faith” is another word for “believe” and it is used over 420 times in the Bible. Just in the Hall of Faith, chapter 11 of Hebrews, the word “faith’ is used 23 times. Faith means assent; faith is believing that certain things are true.  Faith means trust.  When we say that there once was a man called Jesus who lived, died and rose again, we are affirming our belief and our trust in Jesus. As Christians and followers of Jesus, we don’t just believe in something.  We believe in someone! Faith is not about believing that God exists, it is anchoring ourselves, our lives, and all that we have, in God.

Here’s some history: The early creed was developed as a baptismal confession.  In the early church, we’re going back to 140 A.D., the disciples of Jesus were taught this creed over a period of time. They had to memorize each word and the meaning of this trinitarian statement about: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. On their baptismal day, the day they joined the church, every person had to say the Apostles’ Creed.

On the day of their baptism, each person waded out into the water. The pastor asked them if they believed and they were to respond — I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  The pastor would then immerse them under the water and they’d come back up.  The pastor would ask them a second time, “What do you believe?” and they would respond — And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell The third day he rose again from the dead He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. Then they would be immersed back under the water for a second time.  The pastor would ask them a third time, “What do you believe?” They would respond — I believe in the Holy Ghost, I believe in a holy catholic church; the communion of saints The forgiveness of sins, The resurrection of the body And the life everlasting. Amen  They would then be immersed the third and final time…finally to come up again out of the depths of the waters into a new life of faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Kind of cool, isn’t it? (If you ever want to be baptized this way, I’m all for it!)
SO WHAT?
Back in 2005, I was with a mission team that went to Peru to build a church. We built a lovely church and the people were so very thankful. I even got to preach in that little church—four walls, no screens on the windows.  After the church was completed, our team went up to tour a town in the Andes Mountains called Canta.  That Sunday morning, we went out to the river on the edge of town.  We were at 10,000 feet above sea level. The river was running swiftly, and it was freezing cold.  Lo and behold, it was baptismal day! The Peruvians in Canta dress up in white robes, stand by the riverbank and walk out into the freezing water one by one.  Each of the pastors took turns doing the baptisms: First, we would ask them their name.  Then we would ask them why they wanted to be baptized.  One by one, the person would turn to the members of their families, and the church, and there they declared and recited why they believed. I will never forget that experience.  I will never forget the joy, excitement, and the new lives that were proclaimed by professing what they believed on their baptismal day.
Our trip was in 2005–and here I am, vividly recalling their faith from over 14 years ago. (Maybe it’s time for me to host a beach baptismal remembrance day?!)

YOUR “SO WHAT?” for the week:
Imagine…you are standing by your favorite river, lake, ocean spot, or waterfall. It’s time for you to be baptized. You are wearing a white robe. Your family and your church family are there with you. What do you say? What do you believe? Take a quiet time and think about this. The next few weeks we are going to go over the Apostles’ Creed. But what would you say today? What exactly do you believe? For me, I’d be at the Lake of the Ozarks. I’d be out in a quiet cove on a small boat. I know exactly what I’d say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty…”
And down I go, for the first time!

SUMMER 2019: a really good time for us to know and proclaim what we believe.

You are in my prayers daily and I’m praying that our Heavenly Father proclaims love to you unconditionally!

SEED you Sunday!

God loves you and so do i,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

[i] Ritzema, E., & Barry, J. D. (2016). Apostles’ Creed. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[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 7/18/2019

Seed of Faith – God’s Love & Our Love   By Pastor Dave  

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

Dear Friends and Faithful Companions on this Journey with Jesus:

We come to the end of our series on the “LOVE ONE ANOTHER” passages. I encourage you to take  some time and read your Bible this week.  Read 1 John 4:7-21!  I love the verses above! When you read these wonderful words of life in 1 John 4, take a moment and circle all the times the word love is used.  I will help you — the word “love” is used 26 times in 14 verses!

Love is a many splendor-ed thing as they say!

As we study this week, let’s remember a few things: John was picked by Jesus as a young man to be a disciple. This first book of John was written between 85-90 A.D.—50 years past the resurrection. If John was 15 when he began following Jesus, he is now 65 years old writing this book. John may have been the only surviving disciple at this time; perhaps he wanted to reassure his fellow Christians in their faith. Here in first John, John wants to make a point!  Twenty-six times in fourteen verses he writes about love! John used the word “love” 43 times in the entire letter.  Not only does he use the word “love” 26 times in 14 verses, he uses the phrase, “Love One Another” three times.  In verse seven it is an exhortation, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” In verse eleven, it is a statement of duty, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  In verse 12, it is a hypothesis, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

John is now an old man. (Hey, wait! Didn’t I just turn 65?!) John had spent three years with Christ doing daily ministry. He witnessed miracles. He heard tons of really good preaching and teaching. He saw people healed. And…John witnessed the crucifixion…AND THE RESURRECTION.  What John is teaching here is unmistakable: God is love.  This letter was circulated around the early churches and “Pastor” John was telling them, “God is light!  God is Spirit! God is love!”

Over the past few weeks, we have been learning about the “One Another Principles.”  Loving one another is a powerful aspect of our life in Christ and in our lives with one another. This “loving one another” business becomes hard work when we are hurt, betrayed, rejected, insulted, judged, mistreated and/or neglected.  Pastor John knew this and he knew the importance of loving one another; that’s why he wrote this book. John had a one-track mind on this subject: 26 times he reiterated: love one another–despite the hurt, despite the rejection, despite the lies and rumors, despite the betrayal. Love one another–not once, not twice but how about 26 times?

This past week, I talked with a teacher who has just retired after twenty-five years of teaching in an elementary school.  I told her to think of all the lives of the children she had touched in those twenty-five years.  She said that she figured that she had over 5,000 children come through her classroom in those twenty-five years. I thought about that and I reflected on the opportunities she had been given to “love one another” as God had loved her. That made me stop and reflect on all of the different people whom I have met and ministered to through my years of ministry.

Will we ever know all of the people whose lives we have touched? No, at least not until heaven.

Ray Boltz is a songwriter/singer and he wrote a song called, “Thank You.”

I encourage you to watch the YouTube video … Here is a link to a YouTube …

https://youtu.be/UFrdJ2V3r7Y

Here are the words to “Thank You” by Ray Boltz
I dreamed I went to heaven
You were there with me
We walked along the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea
We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name
You turned and saw a young man
He was smiling as he came

He said friend, you may not know me now
But then he said but wait
You used to teach my Sunday school
When I was only eight
Every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start
One morning when you said that prayer
I asked Jesus in my heart

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

Then another man stood before you
And said remember the time
A missionary came to your church
His pictures made you cry
You didn’t have much money
But you gave it anyway
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that’s why I’m here today

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

One by one they came,
As far as the eye could see
Each one somehow touched
By your generosity
Little things that you had done, sacrifices made
Unnoticed on the earth, heaven now proclaims
And I know up in heaven
That you’re not supposed to cry
But I was almost sure
There were tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord
And He said my child look around you
For great is your reward

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave
I am so glad you gave
I am so glad you gave[i]

So What?
After all these weeks of learning to “LOVE ONE ANOTHER”, we are back to Mr. Rogers! Fred Rogers was the creator of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” a children’s television show that began airing in 1968 and ran until 2000—that’s 895 episodes. In 1997, Mr. Rogers won the Emmy lifetime achievement award. Here is an excerpt of his speech:

“So many people have helped me to come to this night. Some of you are here. Some are far away. Some are even in heaven. All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are? Those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life. 10 seconds of silence. I’ll watch the time. Whomever you’ve been thinking about, how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they’ve made.”

The video shows actors and actresses tearing up during and after those ten seconds of silence.

Our “SO WHAT?” for today is this: pause quietly and remember those who have loved you and helped you and encouraged you to become the person that you are today.  Take some time to reflect on the outrageous, lavish, unconditional, inconceivable, unreserved, unrestricted, unlimited, unhindered and unfailing love that God has poured out upon you and that you can freely pour out upon every person you know.

Stop and time out ten seconds on your phone. Think about the people who have made the time to pour out into your life. After your ten seconds are up, spend another minute or two thanking God for each person. Like the song by Boltz tells us–we never know how our investments pay out. We never know how one smile can change someone’s day. We never know how one kindness can change someone’s heart. We never know how one coin can change someone’s life.

Our church is 8 years old. When our youngest went to Africa, she was changed forever by the children and the people there. We started collecting our coins and sending them to Zambia. We started eating cereal or sandwiches and sending a bigger donation to the orphans. Then the churches we served started sending donations, too. Today, ACE (Alliance for Children Everywhere) is 50 years old! Our little church has sent over $20,000 in NOISY SUNDAY COINS during the past 8 years. I’ve been there once and I’m going again in the summer of 2020. What I believe is in the song.

AS WE PAY IT FORWARD…lives are changed. And we never know how one life that we impact will impact others.

A long time ago, I was just a kid kicking a can down the road! Then I met this JESUS and my whole life changed. How about YOU?

LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

SEED YOU SUNDAY!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 6/29/2019

Seed of Faith – Sincere Love   By Pastor Dave  

“Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply from the heart..For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” I Peter 1:21-23

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:
It has been two weeks since I have had a chance to sit down and write a Seed of Faith.  The Collins/Peters household was busy building a new fence and gate and I was really busy with the ministry end of being a pastor. One good friend has passed into Heaven, and several other dear friends have been very sick and in the hospital.  I thank each and every one of you for your prayers and support as I’ve experienced this last round of chelation, which has hit me pretty hard. My endurance, strength and energy has not been what I’m used to.  My feet have been really hurting and for my birthday my wife brought me to a shoe store that watches your gait and measures your feet. With all of the swelling from chelation, my shoe size grew two sizes and I went from a regular width to a triple wide! No wonder my feet were hurting, I was wearing shoes two sizes too small. We had a good laugh over that. Thankfully, I am having more good days than bad ones.  You are such a blessing in my life and in the ministry of The Seed. God is good and works for good in our lives as we hold on, stand firm, and trust.

Here’s some Bible trivia.  There are eleven times in the Bible where we are encouraged to “love one another.”  Today we will look at one of the famous passages — “love one another.”  Today’s passage comes right before the foundational verse of The Seed — which is 1 Peter 1:23.  I encourage you take you Bibles this week and read 1 Peter or at least the first chapter of 1 Peter.

On a beautiful afternoon in April of 2008, two college women’s softball teams faced each other under the blue skies of the Cascade Mountains.  One team was from Western Oregon University and the other team was from Central Washington. Inside a chain-link fence, before a few hundred fans, the two teams played a decisive game.  The winner would advance to the division playoffs.  The loser would hang up their gloves and go home.  The Western Oregon Wolves were a sturdy team that had several strong batters, Sara Tucholsky was not one of them.  She hit a strong .153 and played in the game only because the first-string right fielder had muffed a play earlier in the day. Sara had never hit a home run in her career, but on that beautiful Saturday, with two runners on base, Sara connected with a curve-ball and sent it sailing over the left-field fence.

In her excitement Sara missed first base. Her coach shouted for her to return and touch the base.  When she turned and started back, something popped in her knee and down she went.  Sarah drug herself back to first base, pulled her knee to her chest in pain, and asked the first base coach, “What do I do?”  The umpire wasn’t sure.  He knew if any of Sara’s teammates assisted her, she would be called out.  Sara knew if she tried to stand, she would collapse.  Her team couldn’t help her.  Her leg couldn’t support her. How could she cross home plate? The umpires huddled to talk.[i]

While the umpires huddled and the Sara groaned in pain, we are going to reflect on I Peter.

You and I have a lot in common with Sara.  Sometimes we, too, sit on the bench.  Sometimes we stumble and fall.  Sometimes, in our excitement, we miss stepping on first base. Sometimes we fall and our fall causes us pain, or causes others we love, pain.  Sometimes the umpires in our lives don’t know what to do with us.  We have stumbled, we have fallen, and we need to be rescued.

As I sat and studied this week, I was struck by the word that Peter used to describe how our love for one another should be: SINCERE. Peter says that our love for each other should be sincere.  The Greek word for is “ἀνυπόκριτος anupokritos” which means “unhypocritical or without hypocrisy, being authentic, upright, genuine and sincere.”  Think about it. Peter goes way back with Jesus.  He was one of the first fishermen Jesus ever called to follow Him. Peter was there for everything: the miracles, the healings, the feeding of thousands from nothing. Peter heard every single sermon Jesus ever preached. Jesus was sincere. And Peter had learned that God’s love for us is without hypocrisy, God’s love is genuine and sincere, and he wants our love for one another to be without hypocrisy. Our love is to be genuine and sincere.  Peter tells us that we should love one another “ekteno” — “deeply, fervently, earnestly, zealously, and without ceasing.” Do you have love like this? Love that is deep, fervent, earnest, sincere, and genuine.

LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

An old story from the early 1900’s illustrates to us how to love one another deeply, fervently earnestly, and without ceasing.  While on a three-story scaffold at a construction site one day, a building engineer tripped and fell toward the ground in what appeared to be a fatal fall. Right below the scaffold, a laborer looked up just as the man fell, realized that he was standing in exactly where the engineer would fall, braced himself and absorbed the full impact of the engineer’s fall. The impact slightly injured the engineer but severely hurt the laborer. The brutal collision fractured almost every bone in his body. The good news is that he recovered from the injuries, but he was severely disabled. Years later, a reporter asked the former construction laborer how the building engineer had treated him. The handicapped man told the reporter, “He gave me half of all he owns, including a share of his business. He is constantly concerned about my needs and never lets me want for anything. Almost every day he gives me some token of thanks or remembrance.”

Do you see it? Jesus is the laborer who absorbs our fall. As we round first, second or third base—and we stumble or trip—whether on our own or because of circumstances we cannot see—Jesus absorbs our fall. Often we forget that on the cross, and at Calvary, Jesus stood in our place and took the full impact of our fall.  Jesus redeemed us by His shed blood. Jesus bought us back. Jesus payed our ransom. Jesus paid in full and reclaimed each one of us, a prisoner of the war of good and evil.

So What?
Back to my opening story.  Remember, Sara, the girl we left at first base writhing a pain, clutching her knee, with one hand touching first base? Sara is a long way from home plate.  Her teammates cannot help her or she will be called out due to interference. The umpires are talking. The fans are yelling for someone to take Sara off the field. Sara does not want to leave. A hero now enters into the story, Mallory Holtman from Central Washington. Mallory was playing first base and stood listening to Sara cry in pain. Mallory was a senior that year and was her team’s home-run queen. She really wanted her team to win so that they could move on to the league finals. You would think Mallory would be happy, in a round-about way that fate often delivers, to see that Sara could not make it home. Mallory was not!  Mallory asked the umpires if it would be okay if she and another teammate carried Sara around the bases.  The umpires agreed. Mallory signaled to her shortstop and the two came to Sara, who had tears rolling down her cheeks, and lifted Sara up.  Mallory and her teammate paused at second and third base to allow Sara’s good foot to touch each base.  The fans were cheering and crying at the same time. Sara made it safely home.

(Check out the Youtube of Sara’s fantastic home-run! … https://youtu.be/yaXVk5GBx-s)

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers (and sisters), love one another deeply, from the heart.

The sincere love of Jesus is what spurs each one of us on as we learn to understand what SINCERE love is. As we read our living word of life, may we be spurred onward. May we wake up each day and focus on LOVING ONE ANOTHER. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be writing a SEED OF FAITH about your sincere love!

“Father God, thank you for loving each one of us with a genuine and sincere love. Thank you for redeeming us. Thank you that you absorb and forgive our daily falls and fails. Now, as we pray, show us how to love one another. When we see someone who has stumbled, who has fallen face first in the dirt, give us Your sincere love. Help us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER sincerely—from the heart. This week open our eyes, our ears, our mind and heart and show us someone who needs a shoulder to lean on. Amen.”

Seed you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 6/15/19

Seed of Faith – Teflon Heart   By Pastor Dave  

““As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”  Colossians 3:12-13  

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 

Dear Faithful Friends, Family of God and Saintly Seed-Sowers:
Greetings to you as we approach “Father’s Day” and the beginning of the season of Summer! We’ve already have a few over 100 degree days! The hot days of Summer are here!

First, I’d like to apologize that I did not get a Seed of Faith out to you last week.  It was a rough week in my recovery from the chelation therapy.  The good news is that I am having more good days now than bad days.  Praise the Lord!

In our last “Seed of Faith” we studied how we are called to “bear with one another.” That sounds like something I do. Bear with one another. But what about what comes next?

“Forgive One Another, as the Lord has forgiven you.”

It takes a whole lot in order for us to forgive one another, doesn’t it?  It is true that we need to be kind, compassionate, meek, humble and patient with others. And it’s really good advice for us to clothe ourselves with these awesomely-terrific qualities. Thanks, Paul. But, you know what? It’s just not as easy as it sounds.

In the midst of these “one another” passages, I think we’ve finally run into one that we all struggle with: forgiveness. We do not do this “FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER” very well, and, yet, if we read God’s word, we are going to find it. In Matthew 6, Jesus gives us what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” Get it? The Lord’s prayer. Listen to what Jesus says in verse 12, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” How about verses 14 and 15? “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Couldn’t get much clearer than that, could it? And that’s not the Apostle Paul in all his wisdom and education speaking, this is God’s one and only Son speaking.

Why don’t we forgive one another? Could Paul have tried to shine a light on this subject for us? Is it because we forget to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience? I wonder.

I’m going to share a personal story here. It’s my wife’s story about a dream she had in July of 2012. I remember it vividly because when she woke up, she jumped out of bed at 6 a.m. If you know my wife, you know she isn’t a morning person.  She needs her cup of coffee and an hour of no talking in order to jump anywhere! Here’s her story:

I had just been through a crushing 7 week-experience where I was the one who had been thoroughly crushed. I was hurt, and angry. I blamed everyone for everything. I went to sleep on July 3rd asking God to help me do the unthinkable–forgive. What transpired that night was a dream so real that, when I woke up at 6 a.m. on July 4th, I jumped out of bed yelling, “My heart. My heart. I just had heart surgery!  I’m healed!”

My husband jumped out of bed. “Slow down. Are you dreaming?” I sat back down and regurgitated my dream. I didn’t want to miss a single detail of this great dream. By nature, I’m a dreamer. I dream a lot. In many of my dreams, a person (whom I’m very comfortable calling the Holy Spirit) comes alongside me and as I take his hand, I am jet-packed from this world into another world far away. I remember that as we flew, we soared above the earth and finally stopped at a huge cathedral type building. The inside of the building was glorious! Everything was white: the ceiling, the floor, the walls. The walls had veins of gold throughout them. The next thing I remembered, I was standing against the wall. “If you stay still, this won’t hurt one bit,” the voice spoke to my heart. I’m a wise person when it comes to hurt, so I stood still, very still. The Holy Spirit reached into my body and took my heart into His hands. I remember seeing something that resembled a beating heart in His hands only it was grotesquely blackish not red. And then up the Spirit went. That’s when I noticed pillar after pillar in row after row–all white, all extremely tall, and about 3′ in diameter. The Spirit started kneeding my heart; he appeared to be looking for something. My heart had the consistency of play-dough. “Look! What is this?” He pulled out a black rock–about 3-4″ in size. I knew what the rock was. The rock was one of my oldest grudges–all the way back to childhood. And so it started and one by one the Spirit kneeded rock after rock, showing each one to me. “What’s this one?” And with each rock, I knew exactly what had caused the grudge to start with. The spirit worked and worked until my heart held no other rocks. His heart spoke to my heart, “You are a good grudge-keeper. You are one of the best grudge keepers on earth. You are one of the best ever.” I knew it was true. I had tried and tried to forgive but I just didn’t know how. I’d forgive today and take it back tomorrow. And I had repeated that system for 50 years. “I’m so sorry. I’m trying to forgive. I just don’t know how to do it fully.” The Spirit never seemed mad or angry with me as I named my grudges one by one and after what felt like days, the Spirit flipped a switch on the top of the pillar and turned on the fire. My heart was turned and rotated. And then the Spirit started forming a new heart from my old, grudge-free heart. My new heart looked a giant, valentine-style heart. Next He dipped my heart into a black, goey solution from atop the pillar. I wondered why. It looked ugly.  “Teflon. Your new heart is dipped in teflon.” At that instant, the Spirit stopped the fire and started decorating my new heart with every precious thing the earth contained: diamonds, emeralds, amethysts, sapphires, rubies, garnets. Whatever precious stones there were, my new heart now displayed them all–added to the precious stones was gold, silver, platinum, titanium, copper and every beautiful metal ever created. I watched. The Spirit worked. By the end of our time, the Spirit held up the most beautiful heart I had ever seen. The Spirit then flew (jet packed is more like it) down to where I was waiting along the wall of white marble with veins of gold. He showed me my heart. As He placed my heart back into my body, He said, “I told you this wouldn’t hurt if you held still.” Then the Spirit did one last thing. He closed my body back up and then he lovingly touched my heart area and said (from His heart to my new heart), “Now…now you have a heart like HIM. Remember your teflon heart.  When someone hurts you now, just flick that hurt right off. Your heart is coated with teflon and cannot bury those grudges anymore.” He was happy and I was, well, let’s just say, “OVER THE MOON!”

And that’s when I jumped out of bed–6 am on July 4th. I was screaming, “I just had heart surgery! My heart! My heart! I am healed. I will never be the same.” And then I told Dave all about my TEFLON HEART.

Can you see that when my wife was ready to let go of her deep hurts, pain, betrayals and unforgiveness, she was truly free to forgive? Just as God had forgiven her, she was now able to forgive.

So What?
Wow. My wife, Jac, has truly never been the same since July 4th of 2012. You can find her these days flicking her grudges off from her teflon heart. You can find her flicking her offenses off her teflon heart. You can find her flicking her sorrow, hurt, pain, shame and guilt off of her teflon heart.  My wife was amused at what an extremely good “grudge holder” she was. She thought she was good, but she didn’t know exactly how good she was. What she learned from her Teflon heart dream is that God has already forgiven her. She is free. She is forgiven.

My wife and I go around talking about being transformed by God’s grace and love. Jac knows first hand what it means to give each grudge to God. Every grudge she’s ever held was removed from her heart that night. Her heart of stone was made into a heart of love, a heart like Jesus’.  As we close out our series on BEAR WITH ONE ANOTHER…let us take a moment to refresh our Scripture:

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:12-13

As you fall into bed tonight, if you find any rock-hard grudges in your heart, hand them over to God–one by one. Envision your heart being de-grudged. Envision your heart being coated in Teflon. Envision every precious metal and jewel decorating your heart–you know, your new heart that looks just like Christ’s?

SEED YOU SUNDAY!

God loves you with an inexorable love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 6/2/2018

Seed of Faith – Bear With One Another   By Pastor Dave  

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2.

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers:
Thank you for your prayers and support over the past 13 weeks of  my chelation. I feel as though I have turned the corner.  I’m having more good days than bad days.  Praise the Lord! My wife was right; she told me that week 13 I’d turn the corner and by week 16 this will all be a bad memory!  Week 16 coincides with my 65th birthday, so hurry up, Medicare AND week 16! Continuing on in the work of the faith, I do have a really good reason as to why I’m late getting this out this week: 1. The church bought a new laptop for me! Along with that, let’s just say I’ve been downloading for days, and learning a new computer. 2. I moved out of my “in home” office into the garage! As most of you know, the Lord blessed us last July with a new home in SOCAL! We bought the home with our youngest daughter, her husband and their three kids. And while it was great for me to have a home office, it bothered me to see the two “boys” head to their bedroom each night. The “boys” are now 6’1 and 6’3″, 185 pounds and 200. And so, I moved myself out into the garage (thanking God that I felt well enough) and moved one grandson into my old office.  Meanwhile, the two grands upstairs decided to also trade rooms. While I had visions of sitting in my garage and getting organized, I moved 3 grands rooms, the shed and the garage. Add to all of this the fact that our daughter had shoulder surgery, well, maybe consider this SEED OF FAITH a miracle instead of complaining about why it’s so late! Besides, I’m helping you learn to BEAR with one another as you learn to bear with me and my million excuses for being tardy!

We continue today with our series on the “ONE ANOTHER” passages found in the Bible.  Today we will look at humbling, yet powerful, words: “BEAR WITH ONE ANOTHER.”

Be honest now, what comes to your mind when you read or hear these four words? I asked my wife and she replied, “Do I have to?” I think we all have a little hesitation when it comes to this idea to bear with one another, to forgive one another, to be humble with one another, and to be patient with one another.

Bear with one another!
What comes just before this in our Scripture? Look it up.  Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Yes, today’s message is going to get personal as we learn how to bear with one another. I’ve already gone from preaching to meddling in four paragraphs.

The Apostle Paul writes, “Bear with one another in love.  Bear with one another and forgive one another as you have been forgiven.” As we “live together” as brothers and sisters in Christ, we get to know each other’s idiosyncrasies and we are faced with this challenge to “bear with one another in love.” When we are tempted to be impatient with one another, we need to think about Jesus Christ and His attitude toward us. Christ has forgiven us. Christ has also forgiven the one whom you are learning to bear with!

The Greek word for “bear” — ἀνέχομαι (anechomai) means to “endure, to have patience, to accept, to endure something unpleasant or difficult.” Did you hear that? Anechomai—endure with that person, have patience with that person, accept that person, and endure what’s unpleasant and difficult. HOW in the world are we supposed to DO this?

Here are a couple of ways that I have learned to “bear with one another.” And believe me, being in the ministry is often like being in the movie GROUND HOG’S DAY with Bill Murray. Just the other day, my wife and I were talking about how during the first 40 years of our lives, we never once received an anonymous letter telling us about all of our Christian faults. Nope. Not once. Once I went to seminary, the letters started coming. I’m not exactly sure about why but I have learned through these anonymous letters how to live Colossians and Ephesians. I think I best sum it up by saying: HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE.

The honest truth is, I do have my own weaknesses and idiosyncrasies that I ask others to bear with me. If I have them, I know that we all have them. I’ve come up with a list of practical questions that you can ask yourself:

1. What do I do (or not do) at home that irritates the people I live with?
2. What do I do (or not do) at church that irritates my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?
3. What do I do (or not do) at work and/or school that irritates my fellow employees and/or teachers and fellow students?
4. What do I do (or not do) that irritates the people that I associate with during the week? (You know, the outer circle of your life—sports, drama, the gym, the grocery store, TARGET—all those other places you go to during the week.)
5.  Do I expect more from others than I do from myself?
6.  Do I criticize others? Do I hold others to a higher standard than I hold myself to?

When I get one of those anonymous letters, I have to think of this list. Just because someone works in ministry doesn’t mean they have the heartbeat on being Christ-like. We are still sinners and we fail. When I get down to questions 5 and 6, I can understand that others hold me more accountable; they expect more from me than I can do, and it’s easy to criticize. After I received my third anonymous letter, I asked my Spiritual Director how to handle it. “Dave, when someone writes you an anonymous, critical letter, you file it. Under T for trash. The person is so hurt that they can’t even sign their name. Hurt people hurt and hurt people hurt people like you. The next thing you do is to forgive them and move on.” I’ve only received a handful of letters but I have found these six questions to be helpful and I’ve also found my mentor’s advice to be true.

Paul tells us that we need to clothe ourselves “with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

Forgive One Another, as the Lord has forgiven you. I’m so thankful for God’s forgiveness. I say, “I’m sorry” and I’m immediately forgiven by God. When Christ died on the cross, I believe He uttered, “IT IS FINISHED.” My sin crucified.  Your sin crucified. It’s a done deal. It is finished.

And yet it takes a whole, heck of a lot in order for us to bear with one another and to forgive one another. This is why I love the Colossians and the Ephesians verses.   We need to be kind, compassionate, meek, humble and patient with others. Did you hear what Paul wrote, “CLOTHE.” Clothe yourself with those awesomely terrific qualities.

Corrie ten Boom survived a Nazi concentration camp during WW2. She has written and shared many of her stories of forgiveness.  She shared about meeting one of the guards from the same prison camp where her sister died, where she was held during the war.  The guard had come to hear her speak. I’ve used this illustration before. Do you remember? The guard asked Corrie to forgive him. He stuck out his hand and said, “FORGIVE me.” It took her a moment, but she did take his hand, and she did say that she forgave him. (“Tramp for the Lord”)

“I wish I could say after a long and fruitful life traveling the world, I had learned to forgive all my enemies. I wish I could say that merciful and charitable thoughts just naturally flowed from me and on to others. But they don’t. There is one thing I’ve learned since I’ve passed my eightieth birthday, it’s that I can’t store up good feelings and behavior—but only draw them fresh from God each day.

Maybe I’m glad it’s that way, for every time I go to Him, He teaches me something else. I recall the time—and I was almost seventy—when some Christian friends whom I loved and trusted did something which hurt me. You would have thought that, having been able to forgive the guards in Ravensbruck, forgiving Christian friends would be child’s play. It wasn’t. For weeks I seethed inside. But at last I asked God again to work His miracle in me. And again it happened: first, the cold-blooded decision, then the flood of joy and peace. I had forgiven my friends; I was restored to my Father. Then, why was I suddenly awake in the middle of the night, rehashing the whole affair again? ‘They were my friends!’ I thought. ‘People I loved. If it had been strangers, I wouldn’t have minded so. I sat up and switched on the light. ‘Father, I thought it was all forgiven. Please help me do it…again.’ The next night I woke up again. “They’d talked so sweetly, too! Never a hint of what they were planning.’ ‘Father!’ I cried in alarm. ‘Help me!’

Then it was that another secret of forgiveness became evident. It is not enough to simply say, “\’I forgive you.’ I must also begin to live it out. And in my case, that meant acting as though their sins, like mine, were buried in the depths of the deepest sea. If God could remember them no more—and He had said, “[Your] sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17)—then neither should I. And the reason the thoughts kept coming back to me was that I kept turning their sin over in my mind.

And so I discovered another of God’s principles: We can trust God not only for emotions but also for our thoughts. As I asked Him to renew my mind, He also took away my thoughts.  He still had more to teach me, however, even from this single episode. Many years later, after I had passed my eightieth birthday, an American friend came to visit me in Holland. As we sat in my little apartment in Baarn, he asked me about those people from long ago who had taken advantage of me. ‘It is nothing,’ I said a little smugly. ‘It is all forgiven.’ ‘By you, yes,’ he said. ‘But what about them? Have they accepted your forgiveness?’ ‘They say there is nothing to forgive! They deny it ever happened. No matter what they say, though, I can prove they were wrong.’ I went eagerly to my desk. ‘See, I have it in black and white!I saved all their letters and I can show you where…’
‘Corrie!’ My friend slipped his arm through mine and gently closed the drawer. ‘Aren’t you the one whose sins are at the bottom of the sea? Yet are the sins of your friends etched in black and white?’

For an astonishing moment I could not find my voice. ‘Lord Jesus,’ I whispered at last, ‘who takes all my sins away, forgive me for preserving all these years the evidence against others! Give me grace to burn all the blacks and whites as a sweet-smelling sacrifice to Your glory.’

I did not go to sleep that night until I had gone through my desk and pulled out those letters—curling now with age—and fed them all into my little coal-burning grate. As the flames leaped and glowed, so did my heart. ‘Forgive us our trespasses,’ Jesus taught us to pray, ‘as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ In the ashes of those letters I was seeing yet another facet of His mercy. What more He would teach me about forgiveness in the days ahead I didn’t know, but tonight’s was good news enough.

Forgiveness is the key which unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. The forgiveness of Jesus not only takes away our sins, it makes them as if they had never been.”[i]

So What? WOW. That’s “so what!” You may or may not know that these SEEDS OF FAITH come from my Sunday messages. When I preached this message, I added that maybe you were holding onto something like Corie. Maybe it isn’t a letter, maybe it’s a gift that you begrudge. Maybe it’s an email or a text that you can trace back from here to kingdom come. After I was done preaching this message, I had three people walk up and tell me that they were going to take care of business. One woman deleted several emails, one woman deleted a text thread, and one woman gave away a precious gift that she loved but had been terribly hurt by the giver since. You know what? Not one of these people has told me that they regretted their actions. Matter of fact, they all agreed that they feel freer than they did before.

What do these ancient words of life have for us to hear and learn today?

Bear with one another through the kindness and compassion that God has given us.  Remember to ask yourself some of those thought-provoking questions above. Maybe it’s time to shred those emails, texts, cards,  or letters you have been holding onto. Maybe it is time to give away that precious, priceless gift that every time you see it, you teeter between sadness, sorrow, or shame.

Many years ago, my wife read a book about downsizing. We’ve been downsizing since 2010. Recently she shared her thoughts with me:  Start by making three piles– KEEP, GIVE AWAY, TRASH. And when you come to those things that you’re not sure about, ask yourself this question, “Does this thing bring me joy or take my joy away?” If it brings me joy, I can keep it or give it away. If it takes my joy, I give it away to the Salvation Army.”

Today’s message is for you:  Let go and forgive! Remember to forgive as the Lord has already and completely forgiven you. First, CLOTHE YOURSELF WITH THE GOOD STUFF: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Once you’re clothed, bear with one another. It’s much easier to do once you remember the compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience of the cross.

SEED YOU SUNDAY!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 5/24/19

Seed of Faith – Appreciate and Accept One Another  By Pastor Dave  

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:5-7 ESV

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers!

May you all have a glorious and wonderful Memorial Weekend.  May we stop and remember those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom and may God bring to your remembrance how you were first accepted and welcomed by God.

We are going to make one more run down the road of grace; we are going to finally bring home this simple, yet often difficult, idea of what it means to welcome, accept, appreciate and gather together one another.

Recently I read a story about a speaker who gave a motivational talk. There were 200 people in the audience and he began by holding up a $20.00 dollar bill.  The speaker asked who would like to have the $20 dollar bill.  Almost all the hands went up immediately. The speaker then proceeded crumple up the $20 dollar bill.  Then he asked who would like the crumpled 20 dollar bill and most of the hands went up.  Then the speaker dropped the $20 on the floor and stomped on it and ground the 20 dollar bill into the ground with his shoe. He picked it up and held up the crumpled, dirty $20 bill. “Who still wants this crumpled, dirty $20 bill.”  All hands went up in the air.  The speaker said, “My friends, you have learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still a $20 dollar bill.”  

The truth is that many times in our life we’ve been dropped, crumpled up, stepped on and gotten pretty dirty. Adversity, trials, tribulations, tensions, temptations and many sins entangle us and cause us to stumble, crumble and fall. In turn we begin to feel worthless. Maybe there are others who also judge us to be worthless. I want you to hear and know and believe the good news:  no matter what happens to you, you will never lose your value in God’s eyes. Dirty or clean, finely pressed or crumpled up. smooth and shiny, or cracked and chipped, you are always priceless in God’s eyes. The Bible is filled with scripture after scripture that affirm our worth. Here is one of my favorites found in Psalm 115:12, “The Lord REMEMBERS us and will bless us…Hhe will bless those who fear the Lord, small and great alike!” This past week has not been an easy week, I’ve felt a little crumpled up and stepped on. The truth is that no matter what someone else may say about you, please be true to who you are in Christ. In the end, we will understand that we are not people pleasers, we are God pleasers.

We’ve  been looking at the ONE ANOTHER passages in the bible.  For three weeks, we’ve studied about what it means to WELCOME ONE ANOTHER, to ACCEPT ONE ANOTHER, and to APPRECIATE ONE ANOTHER. I encourage you to take read Romans 15:1-7 over this next week. Find some quiet time and ask God to show you who you really are and how you can appreciate, accept and welcome one another.

So What?
In January of 1998 I accepted my first position in ordained ministry. I was the Senior, and only, pastor in a small church in Missouri. I didn’t go in to do anything different or to change things up.  They had persevered through a hard trial and said they were ready for a new pastor. My wife and I loved the area, and we thought we’d live there forever. Growing up in a small farm town near Chicago, we were familiar with buying our meat from an area butcher. We found a local butcher and began filling our freezer with all kinds of pork and beef and chicken–and even deer. I don’t know if you know this about me but I tend to be a relationship junky. People are my hobby as well as reading. No matter where we’ve lived, I’ve made friends with our postman, our pizza guy, our banker, our grocery clerks, our barbers and on and on down the line. Many of these people are still my friends to this day. As fate would have it, I made friends with the butcher, his wife and daughter. Before too long, they were attending church and inviting others who frequented their butcher shop to join them. I really liked this family. (By the way, they were from California and had moved to Missouri to escape the freeways and to live a simpler life.)

These people loved the Lord with all of their hearts. They never missed a Sunday, they brought their own bibles to church with them, they came to the Sunday morning Bible Study that I led and, every once in a while, the butcher hollered out, “AMEN, pastor” as I preached. They were lovely people.

One day, about a year in to my arrival, I was invited to the doctor’s house for lunch. The doctor and his wife provided a wonderful lunch and great fellowship. After lunch, they told me that they needed to share something with me. A group from the church had asked the doctor and his wife to share with us that the butcher and his family were nice enough people, but they were from the wrong side of town and they didn’t belong at our church. I suppose my face said it all because the doctor continued. He pointed to the fancy, china place-setting of our lunch. “Look, pastor, there’s a plate, a napkin, a glass, and utensils here. Every one of these things represents a separate church. All of the plates in town go to the plate church.  All of the glasses go to the glass church. Let’s just say our church is the folded napkin church and all of the nicely folded napkins go to this napkin church.” As he spoke, I noticed that my napkin had been used and I had left it unfolded on the table. I took my napkin and asked if it belonged in the folded napkin church. To this very day, I remember the look on his face as  he said, “Pastor, this napkin doesn’t belong because it isn’t folded like the rest of the other napkins. It needs to go to the crumpled up napkin church.” He seemed relieved that I was getting his point.

“Wait!” I said. “What if Jesus works in this crumpled up napkin’s life and makes it square, and folded again? Can it come to the church of the square, folded napkins?” The doctor and his wife looked at each other and then they looked at me. “No, pastor, no they can’t. They’re too different.” That very next Sunday, during Adult Sunday School—a group of 30 members walked in and said they wanted to have a members only meeting. All of the non-members left and the meeting started. The main goal of this meeting was for me to take the list of the people they didn’t like so that I could go ask them to stop coming to our church and go to another church. I was truly dumb founded. I remember looking at the people in the circle of chairs.  They passed me their list. I looked at them and said, “Church is supposed to be open to anyone. Jesus calls the people in. We are to welcome and love those He calls. I’m sorry but I cannot do as you ask.”

It was a rocky road for the next six months. I called in the executive board from our denomination. We had meeting after meeting. After several months of trying to reconcile this situation, the executive board’s forecast was that I should leave because the people weren’t budging. I was broken-hearted as I found my way to my office to pick up my car keys and briefcase. As I opened the door, take one guess as to who was sitting in my chair praying for me? The butcher. He said he heard about the meetings and that he wanted to come and pray for me.  He told me that he would leave the church if I wanted him to go.  All because the butcher and his family were from the north side of town and the church was on the south side.

I’m still friends with the butcher and his wife and his family and that was 21 years ago. Matter of fact, the butcher was the one who said, “Go west, pastor, you were made for California.” Wise advice from a wise man. Twenty years ago, I felt like a total failure as I searched for a new call. I’d been crumpled up, stepped on and ground into the dirt on this first mission trip of ordained ministry. Yet the ONE who created me never gave up on me. He breathed life into my heart as He took my crumpled up mess of a napkin and ironed it back out into a square, folded one!

As long as I live I will never forget the lesson the real church of the folded napkin taught me:
Accept One Another, welcome one another, receive one another, take along one another as a companion, and gather together. That’s why I wanted to spend three weeks on accepting one another, on welcoming one another. I think Fred Rogers was right when he said,  “When we look for what’s best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does; so in appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.”

This is your SO WHAT? Homework for the week:  No matter where you go, look for the best in the person you’re with. This is how Christ lived his life, looking for the best in the people he was with. And remember that no matter what you have done, no matter where you’ve gone, no matter how crumpled up and stepped on you are–when you turn back to God, you are accepted. You are welcome. You are received. You are taken along as Christ’s companion. You are gathered together under His wings–no exceptions.

I saw Jesus in that butcher that night as I opened the door to my office. I was utterly defeated. I was a failure in my first church call. The butcher and I prayed that night. We prayed and we prayed and we prayed. That was the night I learned one of the most important lessons of my ministry:
1.  there is never a wrong time to do the right thing   and 2. all a crumpled napkin ever needs is the love of Jesus.

When we welcome one another, we welcome Christ, for the glory of God. You are loved. More than you could ask or imagine, you are loved! “May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 115:14-15

Seed 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.

Weekly Seed of Faith Blog 5/18/19

Seed of Faith – Welcome One Another  By Pastor Dave  

So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!”
Romans 15:7 The Message Bible

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers:
Greetings in the love and grace of God.

I hope and pray that you are doing well and being blessed by the Lord. It is a joy and blessing to hear so many responses to the Seed of Faith each week.  Your responses are a great opportunity for me to connect with you and to pray for you.  Thank you for your prayers and support, especially during the past several months. I have been going through my chelation treatments and just finished my last round of drugs. My body is now fighting to overcome the chelation chemicals.  My wife cheers me on each day, “By mid-June, you will feel so much better!” Til then, I covet your prayers.

Last week we looked at Romans 15:1-7 for the first time in our “One Another” series. I encourage you to take the time and read our scripture. I used a different version this week from the late Eugene Peterson’s Message Bible.  He was a phenomenal writer and pastor, and had a way of looking at the scriptures and putting them into our English language so that we can understand them better. In last week’s SEED OF FAITH, I shared the story about a mission trip to Mexico and also shared a wonderful quote from Mister Rogers, “When we look for what’s best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does; so in appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.”

Last week we looked at the idea of accepting one another. This week we will look at accepting one another. The Greek word for “accept” is “προσλαμβάνω proslambanō’ and it means, “to receive, to welcome, to take along as a companion, or to gather together.” WELCOME ONE ANOTHER.

Jesus taught acceptance.  He ate with tax collectors and sinners.  He went out to the sick and broken.  Jesus welcomed the outcasts. Jesus does the same for us. Have you ever stopped to think that Jesus has accepted us? Jesus receives us as we are, welcomes us as we are. Takes us along as His companion, and gathers together with us without fail. We are accepted and welcomed by our Lord.

This pauses me to question myself?  Why don’t I receive, accept, welcome, gather together, take along as a companion—the others I meet along the way? Jesus does. So should I.

I would like to share a personal story that has touched my life. May we all learn to welcome and accept others as Christ has welcomed and accepted us.

When I lived in Rochelle, a young, vibrant girl from our church went on vacation to Canada with her family. We knew the family well. Mary was 13. During their trip, Mary got bit by a mosquito that infected her brain with encephalitis. Mary had been a normal junior high girl who made great grades. That summer, everything changed for Mary. Mary now faced the daily challenges of dealing with a partially paralyzed body. Overnight Mary’s life had changed. One thing about Mary never changed, her joy and her cheerfulness and her beautiful smile. My wife and Mary became fast friends. Mary had learned how to ride a bike and soon she became a daily visitor in our home. Mary would stop by to tell my wife where she going, what she was doing. Mary always wanted to pray, so they prayed. For 20 years, Jac and Mary had a wonderful friendship. Mary loved the lord Jesus with all of her heart, soul and mind, and she told everyone about Him! Mary was the kind of person who radiated the love and acceptance of Jesus. She never met a person she didn’t like!  After 20 years of calling Mary her BFF, we entered the ministry life and left Rochelle. My wife prayed hard for Mary to find another BFF and she did–right around the corner from where we lived. Every time we went back to Rochelle for a visit, we could count on finding Mary at church and, later, on our doorstep. We talked about the “good old days” and we cried and laughed and prayed together. Mary had become independent enough through the years to move into an apartment of her own and had us over for tea whenever we were “back home.” And, as God would have it, the years marched on. Mary had fallen gravely ill. We went back home and drove over to her apartment. Her family told us that Mary was close to death, and that she was unresponsive and had been for a day. As we knelt down on the floor by her bed, we took her hand in ours, and spoke to our friend. We told her how much we loved her. We thanked her for being who she was and for the many happy visits we had received from her over the years. We knew she was ready to meet Jesus. After we prayed, we stood up and saw crocodile tears rolling down her cheeks. She had heard us. She knew we had come to say good bye. Later that day Mary passed into the heavenly kingdom and was now BFF with Jesus. The one who had welcomed and accepted every single person she had ever met was now welcomed and accepted by Christ.

Why do I tell you this story? Because not everyone in town accepted or welcomed Mary. Mary was different. Mary cried a lot and laughed a lot. I share this story because Mary did one thing very well: she accepted and welcomed everyone she ever met. She didn’t care who you were, or what you did. And every time Mary left you on her bike, she would always smile, wave, and say, “Remember, Jesus loves you and so do I.” And off she would go to spread the love, the joy, the kindness of Christ with our little town. She was something sacred and special. She always looked for the best in every single person she met.

“When we look for what’s best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does; so in appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.”

(I also tell you this story because I want you to know that when you are standing by the bedside of someone who is gravely ill, they may not be able to respond to you but they can still hear you. Speaking words of love to them can be one of your last acts of kindness before they leave our world.)

So what?
Next week we will continue to learn how to accept and welcome one another. I have another great story to share with you. This week, work on looking for the best in the people you are with. That’s your homework: Accept One Another. Welcome one another. Receive one another. Take along one another as a companion. Gather together with one another.
No matter where you go, look for the best in the people you’re with. This is how Christ lived: looking for the best in the people he was with.

It’s truly a sacred thing to do.

Seed you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love.    Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701  

Weekly Seed of Faith 5/2/19

Seed of Faith – Submit to One Another   By Pastor Dave  

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers!

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.  I pray that you know that God has you in His strong and loving grip of grace.  I also pray that you learn to rest in this everlasting love!

Over the past few weeks, we have been looking at what I call “The One Another Principles.”  We have been looking at and reflecting on the “One Another”passages in the Bible.

We have looked at:

“Greet One Another,”
“Honor One Another”
“Be Devoted to One Another” and
“Serve One Another.”

Today we tackle a tough subject, “SUBMIT TO ONE ANOTHER.”

Here are a few passages of Scripture to set the stage and to give us ground to build upon.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Romans 13:1

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. I Peter 2:12-17

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:21

Today we tackle a tough subject:
Submit —
Submit to God. Submit to authorities. Submit to one another. Husbands Submit to God — Wives Submit to Husband — Husband Submit  to Wives and God — Children Submit to Parents — Employees Submit to your Employers — Students Submit to your Teachers — Teachers Submit to your Administrators — Brothers and Sisters Submit to Brothers and Sisters!  Do you get the picture?!  Submit!  We are called to submit!

Let’s go straight to the Greek word for submit: ὑποτάσσω hupotassō which means to place or rank under, to subject, to obey.”  Place yourself under one another. Rank under one another. Obey one another. If you haven’t gone to see the movie BREAKTHROUGH, please do. Everyone has trouble learning to SUBMIT…to God…and to one another.

Who here likes to submit? Who wakes up in the morning thinking, “I sure hope there’s a rash of submission happening in my life today?” “There isn’t anything I love more than submitting.” Yet, we all know that true freedom is often found when we finally do submit.

When J. Wilbur Chapman, American evangelist, was in London, he had an opportunity to meet General Booth, who at that time was past eighty years of age. General Booth started the Salvation Army. Dr. Chapman listened reverently as the old general spoke of the trials and the conflicts and the victories. The American evangelist then asked the general if he would disclose his secret for success. “He hesitated a second,” Dr. Chapman said, “and I saw the tears come into his eyes and steal down his cheeks, and then he said, ‘I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I, men with greater opportunities; but from the day I got the poor of London on my heart, and a vision of what Jesus Christ could do with the poor of London, I made up my mind that God would have all of William Booth there was. And if there is anything of power in the Salvation Army today, it is because God has all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life.'” Dr. Chapman said he went away from that meeting with General Booth knowing “that the greatness of a man’s power is found in the measure of his surrender.”[i]

George Mueller, Christian evangelist and director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, used to say that he first asked and then settled the questions concerning any proposed measure: “Is this the Lord’s work?” “Is this the Lord’s way?” “Is this the Lord’s time? Sounds like pretty good wisdom to me.

So What?
Every one of us has a decision to make when we come face to face with the cross. Did you know that? You can’t just face the cross and stand there—either you will knee or bow in total submission or you will stand there and walk away. Submission is a personal thing. A choice we each get faced with daily. Will we submit, or will we demand our own way? Will I submit to God each day? Or will I choose to go it alone?  Frank Sinatra’s “MY WAY” comes to mind.

The bible statisticians have developed a formula. The stats are that God normally pursues a person in 7 different attempts in order to capture our heart, soul, mind and life. I remember when I accepted Jesus. I was 12 just days away from my 13th birthday. My oldest brother had just been killed in a car accident. The people who came to the funeral home all said, “You’ll see Gary again…in heaven.”  I asked my Nanny how. How could I be sure I’d see my brother again?  My Nanny told me all about Jesus. I wanted more than anything to see my brother again and to be reunited with him.  I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I was going to heaven! I would see my brother again. But deep inside there lurked an anger within my heart, and while I had what you call “FIRE INSURANCE”…I started to live like hell. I started drinking at 13. During the next ten years, God tried many times to capture my heart. Here’s my own words, I kept Jesus as my savior in my back pocket—like a lucky rabbit’s foot hanging from my belt loop. When I was really afraid, or sad, I would remember that one day I would see my brother again. I finished junior high and and high school and I went off to college nine hours from home to a little town called Kirksville, MO. I joined a fraternity—and I’m pretty sure that was NOT God trying to capture my heart! I met this beautiful girl from St. Louis and I pursued her. On our first date, I picked up on a stolen tricycle (which I returned.) We stopped the little creek that ran through campus and I retrieved the six pack of beer I had keeping cold. That brown-eyed beauty said, “My dad is going to kill you when he finds out.” I asked her where her dad was. St. Louis?  That’s four hours away–we have plenty of time. I pursued this young lady and we got married. At our wedding, we chose the song, FOLLOW ME by John Denver.  Little did I know that this was God’s calling on our marriage. “Follow me, where I go, what I do, who I know. Take my hand and say you’ll follow me.” During the first 7 years (huh, 7?)  of our marriage, I lived a hard life. During this time, my wife, accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.  She tried to tell me all about Him and how Jesus had captured her heart.  She had submitted to God. During the 7th year of our marriage, my wife brought me to a couple’s bible study. My favorite high school teacher was leading it, so I went. On a cold winter’s night in January, I rededicated my life to God—I accepted Jesus as my LORD and my SAVIOR. I got down on my knees and I submitted. I submitted my heart, I submitted my life.  Pretty soon I was going to church with my wife and kids—and nothing made my Nanny happier. I became a leader in the church and led many youth to Christ. I made one of those grace weekends you always hear about. I got a cross and one Sunday my Nanny pulled it out of my shirt and said, “David, this cross means you are going to become a pastor.” My hero, my Nanny, died that week.  I’ll never forget the look on her face when she told me I was going to become a pastor.

Surrender isn’t giving up something you don’t want … It’s giving up what you do want.
 
Victory isn’t walking across the goal line …It’s struggling through opposition to the goal.

Trust isn’t going just where the lights are … It’s following through the dark valleys.
 

Love isn’t giving when others are giving … It’s giving when others are not giving.

Faith isn’t overflowing to others … It’s emptying itself to others.
P.L Tan

Our lesson for today is two-fold. First, God wants us to submit our heart to Him. Second, God wants us to live a life of harmony with one another. God wants us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

God used a really hard season of my life in order to pursue me. Finally, when I could run away no more, I faced the cross. And instead of turning and running the other direction, I faced that cross because I knew that Jesus Christ had died for me. God had put me into His tumbler and  tumbled away most of the rough edges so that I could live in harmony with others and submit.

My hero, my Nanny died in 1986. I chuckled that she thought my cross meant I’d become a pastor….until 1992 when I felt the call of God on my life. It took a little over ten years but in 1997 I was ordained into full-time ministry as a pastor. The hound of heaven had pursued me.

One of our church members gave us a sign when we moved into our new home. When my wife opened it, she said, “I know the perfect place for this.” She hung it above the window in our bedroom. The sign reads, “In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.” It’s the first thing we see as we begin each new day.

So What?  Have you stood and faced the cross? Have you surrendered? Or are you still singing, “My Way”? If you are still singing, I’m praying for the hound of heaven to find you. I’m praying that you will learn to submit out of your deep respect for what Christ did for you on the cross. Once I submitted to Christ, I understood the tapping on my head at the funeral home, “You’ll see Gary again.” I fought that. I let my anger control many bad choices. I tried my hardest to do it my way. In the end, I stood, yet again, at that empty cross. I was tired of walking away. I was tired of hurting people that I loved. There had to be a better way. That January night, after hearing Romans 8, I submitted my heart and my life to Christ. Nothing’s ever been the same.

It’s my prayer for you.

SEED YOU SUNDAY

God loves you with and everlasting love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 4/27/19

Seed of Faith – Serve One Another   By Pastor Dave  

“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?” Galatians 5:13-15 The Message Bible

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:

We made it! Lent is history and Easter is still a mystery! The tomb is empty and Jesus is alive! Hallelujah!

I have to be honest with you, sometimes the church calendar feels more like a glacier than a calendar! We move from Advent to Christmas to Lent to Easter and, to be honest with you, us pastors are nothing but exhausted! Keep praying for your pastor.  Right about now they can use a text, an email, a phone call, a slap on the back that says, “Hallelujah! YOU MADE IT! The tomb is empty, Pastor! Jesus is alive…and YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT!”

Today we come to another “One Another” statement found in  the Scripture!  We have looked at “Greet One Another,”  “Be Devoted to One Another,” “Honor One Another,” and “Live in Harmony with One Another!” 

When I started working on this sermon series, the Lord put it on my heart to seek His understanding of what “One Another” meant from His perspective.  It hit me this week, and not just the chelation cycle 4 of 5.  What hit me were the thoughts of how my life, our family, the church, our schools, and work places would change if only we understood the principles of “one another.” What would happen is we greeted one another each day? What would happen if we were devoted to our spouse, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, schools and churches? What would happen is we honored others and chose to live in harmony with one another?

Our Scripture for today is written by the Apostle Paul and he wrote it to the church in Galatia and Ephesus.  The Galatian church was struggling with legalism and the Ephesian church was needing encouragement.  What’s Paul’s answer? SERVE ONE ANOTHER.

When you hear the word “serve,” what comes to your mind?  When I thought about the word “serve” a bunch of questions flashed across my brain.  How well do I serve? Who or what do I serve? When do I serve? How do I serve? What is my attitude when I serve? Why do I serve? How much should I serve?  “You, my brothers (and sisters), were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love Galatians 5:13

Here’s a fun game. Rate yourself from 0 to 10 (zero is the lowest) with a scorecard. Here are the questions. (I’m going from preaching to meddling now.)

·      How well do I serve?

·         How well do I serve others?

·         How well do I serve my spouse?

·         How well do I serve my children?

·         How well do I serve my co-workers?

·         How well do I serve my church?

I find it interesting that one of the Greek words for “serve” is “doulos.” Duolos is translated as “slave or servant.” Are you a slave or a servant in your serving? (Hey, I told you I went from preaching to meddling!) There are four basic words in the New Testament that are translated “serve,” “servant,” or “serving.” All of these words have one basic concept.  The concept of serving. The words serve, servant, slave, serving are used over 300 times with 130 of those times in the Gospels and Acts, and approximately 170 times in the Epistles. This averages out to have the word “serve” used 10 times in each book of the New Testament. The two words that are used the most frequently are douleo and diakoneo. Douleo literally means “to be a slave, to serve, to obey, to submit.” It’s used in both a good and bad sense. On the positive side, the word douleo means to serve God and others in the context of Christian love. On the negative side, douleo means to become a slave to a base power. For example, in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, he taught that we can be “slaves to sin.” Romans 6:6

Diakoneo literally means “table waiter or servant.”  We get the words deacon or minister from diakoneo. Think about having a really terrific table waiter at dinner. Your table waiter can literally make or break your meal time. A really great table waiter has to have some sort of mental list that they go by: introduce yourself, tell them about the specials, get their drink order. Come back with their drink orders and see if they have any questions or if they are ready to order. Bring their order out and serve them with a happy heart and smile. Bring their ticket but tell them there’s no hurry.  Yes.  You got it–that is exactly what we’re supposed to be like in our families, in our employment, in our schools, in our churches. We’re supposed to be really great table waiters. Are you? Are you a really good table waiter?

So who or what do you serve?  How do you serve?  Do you serve yourself before you serve others? Do you serve God? Do you serve money?  Jesus told His follower in The Sermon on the Mount that we cannot serve two masters. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”  Matthew 6:24

When James and John’s mother came to Jesus and asked if her two sons could sit on the right and the left of Jesus when he came into His Kingdom, Jesus responded with a powerful statement of servanthood. “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28 These are powerful words!  If you want to be first, you need to be a slave!  Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve.

Here’s the question put just a little differently: HOW’S YOUR SERVE?

When my family lived in Rochelle, Illinois, I worked in the Goodyear tire business and GMC truck business during the week and served our church as co-youth pastors with my wife.  During the 18 years we served as youth pastors, we helped to organize at least 9 “Go-N-Serve” mission trips for our youth.  Every other year we would choose a location and raise our funds and we would take the youth on a “Go-N-Serve” Mission. These mission trips were a time to teach the youth how to serve others and for them to experience more about God and living in community with others.  We’ve visited Colorado, Florida, Missouri, North Dakota, Vermont and all the states in between. A Go-N-Serve mission trip consisted of our  youth group serving and working for a week. We did many different jobs: we worked in old cemeteries refurbishing them, we worked in retreat camps restoring, in Florida we worked with Habitat for Humanity building homes. Every other year, 20-40 teenagers signed up to “GO AND SERVE” and an additional ten to twelve adults loaded up and traveled with us.  We were gone for 10-14 days. We drove out in vans and camped along the way. Once we arrived at our work site, we wanted to teach the youth that serving is an opportunity for them to give back.  It was an opportunity for them to learn how to serve one another with a cheerful heart. Our work days consisted of working from 8 am until early afternoon. They then had the rest of the day to rest or play and, almost always, a lake, river, or ocean were involved in their leisure time. Night time was group time—time to talk about our day and have devotions to close out the night.

On one of our trips, we were headed from Chicago to Vermont. We spent the week restoring and renovating a camp ground and retreat center.  The kids stayed in cabins along the lake. On our way to Camp Wilmot, we stopped for the night outside of Buffalo, New York.  We had arrived too late to set up camp and cook dinner for 40 people, so we decided to set up camp and go into town for pizza. We set up all the tents and headed into town. When we arrived back to the camp, we found a mess. All of our tents had been knocked down.  When the youth started checking their tents and belongings, they found toothpaste squeezed into their pillows and sleeping bags, and all their belongings had been tossed all around.  To say the least, everyone was really upset.  I went to the camp host and explained what had happened.  The host said that the winds coming off Lake Erie were really powerful.  It could even have been a mini-tornado.  I asked the man if the winds knew how to open toothpaste and squeeze it out into sleeping bags.  The host looked at me blankly. The camp was called Mini-tonka…but we began calling it “the Winds of Mini HaHa.”

It turned out that the camp host had several teenage children and they had been sitting on the ledges by the bathrooms when we were setting up. We were pretty sure they were the culprits.  Some of our youth football players wanted to go over and pick a fight with them to get even.  I sat the kids down and led a campfire devotion on becoming a servant and serving one another. We had a long discussion that night on forgiveness and grace.  The kids asked if we could invite the teenage culprits over to join us for smores and stories. As the evening began to unfold, the camp kids told our youth that they were sorry, they had torn up our campsites. Our youth told the boys that they were forgiven. We left the next day but we promised to come stay there on our way home. When we arrived after our week of serving in Vermont, the boys had our fire ready and smores waiting. Serving is an opportunity to grow.

“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?” Galatians 5:13-15 The Message Bible

Your “so what” challenge this week is for you to look and see someone you can serve.  Make a mental note of this idea and try to serve one person each day.  See how your life will be changed.  See how the life of the person you serve will be changed.

I know several people right here in our church who chose this idea as their Lenten project. Each day they looked for the opportunity to serve. My wife said my message on serving one another had to be a hit because every Sunday she is now bombarded with people stopping by JESUS CLASS asking, “How can I help?” Being a church that is stored inside a trailer during the week, Miss Jac packs up at least 8 rollers, and 4 huge bins each Sunday. And, now, people are strolling through JESUS CLASS asking, “What can I bring to the curb for you?”

GET YOUR SCORECARDS READY. Zero means you are a very poor table waiter.  Five means you are an average table waiter. Six to ten means you’re going to get a 20% tip someday!

·         How well do I serve?

·         How well do I serve others?

·         How well do I serve my spouse?

·         How well do I serve my children?

·         How well do I serve my co-workers?

·         How well do I serve my church?

Seed you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 8/1/19

Seed of Faith – I BELIEVE GOD THE FATHER   By Pastor Dave  

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Hebrews 12:1-3

Dear Faithful Friends and Fantastic Seed-Sowers:
Greetings in the grace and love of God! Our series on “LOVE ONE ANOTHER” has ended and we are now going into our “What We Believe” series. As I pray and seek the Lord for what to preach on, I’m often overwhelmed with thoughts like, “I’ve been preaching for 20 years. I’ve preached almost a thousand messages. What is left, Lord?” And just when I seriously cannot think of one more thing, a crevice to a sacred cave opens with, what I’m sure is Holy Spirit wisdom, and I start wondering again. “What is the Apostles’ Creed? When was it created? Who wrote it? Why did they write it?” And pretty soon a whole, new series opens up and I’m off down another series’ trail. Today we begin a series that I’ve called “I BELIEVE.” Our series is based upon the Apostles’ Creed.

Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell
The third day he rose again from the dead
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead
I believe in the Holy Ghost
I believe a holy catholic church; the communion of saints
The forgiveness of sins
The resurrection of the body
And the life everlasting. Amen.[i]

The Apostles’ Creed gets its name from the Apostles who followed Jesus — Peter, Andrew, James & John, Matthew, Thomas and the rest.  One tradition believes each disciple was responsible for one line in the Creed, however, most scholars do not believe that.  The earliest reference of the Apostles’ Creed is found around the middle of the 2nd century — around 140 A.D. Roughly a little over 100 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.   The earliest written form of the creed is found in a letter that Marcellus of Ancyra wrote in Greek to Julius, the bishop of Rome, about 341. Fifty years later, Tyrannius Rufinus wrote a commentary on this creed in Latin.[i]

We have in our possession the writings of a document that is at least 1,879 years old!  Stop and ponder the millions of people who have recited this creed throughout the years.  When we say the Apostles’ Creed, we are not just expressing our own faith or what we believe, we are joining our voices with the great cloud of witnesses from across the centuries—people from every tribe and nation, people who love Christ.

For the early church, the Apostles’ Creed was known as “The Rule of Truth” or “The Rule of Faith” “rugula fidei” in the Latin or Roman world at the time. This “Rule of Faith” was not to replace Scripture or supersede Scripture in any way but was used to corroborate, verify, validate and teach the Scriptures.

Honestly, what could happen in our world today if we all went back to teaching “The Rule of Truth” or “The Rule of Faith” –the Apostles’ Creed?  Like the guy in the movie THE PRINCESS BRIDE says, “Inconceivable.”

The Latin word for “creed” is Credo and it literally means “I BELIEVE.” The Apostles’ Creed is a statement of what the apostles believed.

Our “SO WHAT?” questions comes early today:   What do you believe?  Who do you believe?  Why do you believe? How do you believe?

It is my prayer that, as we go through this series, we will come to know what we believe and why we believe what we believe.

The truth is that we all believe in something. The Atheist who says there is no God is stating their belief–I believe there is no god.  The Buddhist believes in Budda, the Hindu believes in Carma, the Muslim believe in Allah. Every man-made religion has its own beliefs and practices.

Teaching time: The word “believe” is used 253 times in the New Testament and another 30 times in the Old Testament.  “Faith” is another word for “believe” and it is used over 420 times in the Bible. Just in the Hall of Faith, chapter 11 of Hebrews, the word “faith’ is used 23 times. Faith means assent; faith is believing that certain things are true.  Faith means trust.  When we say that there once was a man called Jesus who lived, died and rose again, we are affirming our belief and our trust in Jesus. As Christians and followers of Jesus, we don’t just believe in something.  We believe in someone! Faith is not about believing that God exists, it is anchoring ourselves, our lives, and all that we have, in God.

Here’s some history: The early creed was developed as a baptismal confession.  In the early church, we’re going back to 140 A.D., the disciples of Jesus were taught this creed over a period of time. They had to memorize each word and the meaning of this trinitarian statement about: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. On their baptismal day, the day they joined the church, every person had to say the Apostles’ Creed.

On the day of their baptism, each person waded out into the water. The pastor asked them if they believed and they were to respond — I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  The pastor would then immerse them under the water and they’d come back up.  The pastor would ask them a second time, “What do you believe?” and they would respond — And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell The third day he rose again from the dead He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. Then they would be immersed back under the water for a second time.  The pastor would ask them a third time, “What do you believe?” They would respond — I believe in the Holy Ghost, I believe in a holy catholic church; the communion of saints The forgiveness of sins, The resurrection of the body And the life everlasting. Amen  They would then be immersed the third and final time…finally to come up again out of the depths of the waters into a new life of faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Kind of cool, isn’t it? (If you ever want to be baptized this way, I’m all for it!)
SO WHAT?
Back in 2005, I was with a mission team that went to Peru to build a church. We built a lovely church and the people were so very thankful. I even got to preach in that little church—four walls, no screens on the windows.  After the church was completed, our team went up to tour a town in the Andes Mountains called Canta.  That Sunday morning, we went out to the river on the edge of town.  We were at 10,000 feet above sea level. The river was running swiftly, and it was freezing cold.  Lo and behold, it was baptismal day! The Peruvians in Canta dress up in white robes, stand by the riverbank and walk out into the freezing water one by one.  Each of the pastors took turns doing the baptisms: First, we would ask them their name.  Then we would ask them why they wanted to be baptized.  One by one, the person would turn to the members of their families, and the church, and there they declared and recited why they believed. I will never forget that experience.  I will never forget the joy, excitement, and the new lives that were proclaimed by professing what they believed on their baptismal day.
Our trip was in 2005–and here I am, vividly recalling their faith from over 14 years ago. (Maybe it’s time for me to host a beach baptismal remembrance day?!)

YOUR “SO WHAT?” for the week:
Imagine…you are standing by your favorite river, lake, ocean spot, or waterfall. It’s time for you to be baptized. You are wearing a white robe. Your family and your church family are there with you. What do you say? What do you believe? Take a quiet time and think about this. The next few weeks we are going to go over the Apostles’ Creed. But what would you say today? What exactly do you believe? For me, I’d be at the Lake of the Ozarks. I’d be out in a quiet cove on a small boat. I know exactly what I’d say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty…”
And down I go, for the first time!

SUMMER 2019: a really good time for us to know and proclaim what we believe.

You are in my prayers daily and I’m praying that our Heavenly Father proclaims love to you unconditionally!

SEED you Sunday!

God loves you and so do i,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

[i] Ritzema, E., & Barry, J. D. (2016). Apostles’ Creed. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[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 7/18/2019

Seed of Faith – God’s Love & Our Love   By Pastor Dave  

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

Dear Friends and Faithful Companions on this Journey with Jesus:

We come to the end of our series on the “LOVE ONE ANOTHER” passages. I encourage you to take  some time and read your Bible this week.  Read 1 John 4:7-21!  I love the verses above! When you read these wonderful words of life in 1 John 4, take a moment and circle all the times the word love is used.  I will help you — the word “love” is used 26 times in 14 verses!

Love is a many splendor-ed thing as they say!

As we study this week, let’s remember a few things: John was picked by Jesus as a young man to be a disciple. This first book of John was written between 85-90 A.D.—50 years past the resurrection. If John was 15 when he began following Jesus, he is now 65 years old writing this book. John may have been the only surviving disciple at this time; perhaps he wanted to reassure his fellow Christians in their faith. Here in first John, John wants to make a point!  Twenty-six times in fourteen verses he writes about love! John used the word “love” 43 times in the entire letter.  Not only does he use the word “love” 26 times in 14 verses, he uses the phrase, “Love One Another” three times.  In verse seven it is an exhortation, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” In verse eleven, it is a statement of duty, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  In verse 12, it is a hypothesis, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

John is now an old man. (Hey, wait! Didn’t I just turn 65?!) John had spent three years with Christ doing daily ministry. He witnessed miracles. He heard tons of really good preaching and teaching. He saw people healed. And…John witnessed the crucifixion…AND THE RESURRECTION.  What John is teaching here is unmistakable: God is love.  This letter was circulated around the early churches and “Pastor” John was telling them, “God is light!  God is Spirit! God is love!”

Over the past few weeks, we have been learning about the “One Another Principles.”  Loving one another is a powerful aspect of our life in Christ and in our lives with one another. This “loving one another” business becomes hard work when we are hurt, betrayed, rejected, insulted, judged, mistreated and/or neglected.  Pastor John knew this and he knew the importance of loving one another; that’s why he wrote this book. John had a one-track mind on this subject: 26 times he reiterated: love one another–despite the hurt, despite the rejection, despite the lies and rumors, despite the betrayal. Love one another–not once, not twice but how about 26 times?

This past week, I talked with a teacher who has just retired after twenty-five years of teaching in an elementary school.  I told her to think of all the lives of the children she had touched in those twenty-five years.  She said that she figured that she had over 5,000 children come through her classroom in those twenty-five years. I thought about that and I reflected on the opportunities she had been given to “love one another” as God had loved her. That made me stop and reflect on all of the different people whom I have met and ministered to through my years of ministry.

Will we ever know all of the people whose lives we have touched? No, at least not until heaven.

Ray Boltz is a songwriter/singer and he wrote a song called, “Thank You.”

I encourage you to watch the YouTube video … Here is a link to a YouTube …

https://youtu.be/UFrdJ2V3r7Y

Here are the words to “Thank You” by Ray Boltz
I dreamed I went to heaven
You were there with me
We walked along the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea
We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name
You turned and saw a young man
He was smiling as he came

He said friend, you may not know me now
But then he said but wait
You used to teach my Sunday school
When I was only eight
Every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start
One morning when you said that prayer
I asked Jesus in my heart

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

Then another man stood before you
And said remember the time
A missionary came to your church
His pictures made you cry
You didn’t have much money
But you gave it anyway
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that’s why I’m here today

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

One by one they came,
As far as the eye could see
Each one somehow touched
By your generosity
Little things that you had done, sacrifices made
Unnoticed on the earth, heaven now proclaims
And I know up in heaven
That you’re not supposed to cry
But I was almost sure
There were tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord
And He said my child look around you
For great is your reward

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave
I am so glad you gave
I am so glad you gave[i]

So What?
After all these weeks of learning to “LOVE ONE ANOTHER”, we are back to Mr. Rogers! Fred Rogers was the creator of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” a children’s television show that began airing in 1968 and ran until 2000—that’s 895 episodes. In 1997, Mr. Rogers won the Emmy lifetime achievement award. Here is an excerpt of his speech:

“So many people have helped me to come to this night. Some of you are here. Some are far away. Some are even in heaven. All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are? Those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life. 10 seconds of silence. I’ll watch the time. Whomever you’ve been thinking about, how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they’ve made.”

The video shows actors and actresses tearing up during and after those ten seconds of silence.

Our “SO WHAT?” for today is this: pause quietly and remember those who have loved you and helped you and encouraged you to become the person that you are today.  Take some time to reflect on the outrageous, lavish, unconditional, inconceivable, unreserved, unrestricted, unlimited, unhindered and unfailing love that God has poured out upon you and that you can freely pour out upon every person you know.

Stop and time out ten seconds on your phone. Think about the people who have made the time to pour out into your life. After your ten seconds are up, spend another minute or two thanking God for each person. Like the song by Boltz tells us–we never know how our investments pay out. We never know how one smile can change someone’s day. We never know how one kindness can change someone’s heart. We never know how one coin can change someone’s life.

Our church is 8 years old. When our youngest went to Africa, she was changed forever by the children and the people there. We started collecting our coins and sending them to Zambia. We started eating cereal or sandwiches and sending a bigger donation to the orphans. Then the churches we served started sending donations, too. Today, ACE (Alliance for Children Everywhere) is 50 years old! Our little church has sent over $20,000 in NOISY SUNDAY COINS during the past 8 years. I’ve been there once and I’m going again in the summer of 2020. What I believe is in the song.

AS WE PAY IT FORWARD…lives are changed. And we never know how one life that we impact will impact others.

A long time ago, I was just a kid kicking a can down the road! Then I met this JESUS and my whole life changed. How about YOU?

LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

SEED YOU SUNDAY!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 6/29/2019

Seed of Faith – Sincere Love   By Pastor Dave  

“Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply from the heart..For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” I Peter 1:21-23

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:
It has been two weeks since I have had a chance to sit down and write a Seed of Faith.  The Collins/Peters household was busy building a new fence and gate and I was really busy with the ministry end of being a pastor. One good friend has passed into Heaven, and several other dear friends have been very sick and in the hospital.  I thank each and every one of you for your prayers and support as I’ve experienced this last round of chelation, which has hit me pretty hard. My endurance, strength and energy has not been what I’m used to.  My feet have been really hurting and for my birthday my wife brought me to a shoe store that watches your gait and measures your feet. With all of the swelling from chelation, my shoe size grew two sizes and I went from a regular width to a triple wide! No wonder my feet were hurting, I was wearing shoes two sizes too small. We had a good laugh over that. Thankfully, I am having more good days than bad ones.  You are such a blessing in my life and in the ministry of The Seed. God is good and works for good in our lives as we hold on, stand firm, and trust.

Here’s some Bible trivia.  There are eleven times in the Bible where we are encouraged to “love one another.”  Today we will look at one of the famous passages — “love one another.”  Today’s passage comes right before the foundational verse of The Seed — which is 1 Peter 1:23.  I encourage you take you Bibles this week and read 1 Peter or at least the first chapter of 1 Peter.

On a beautiful afternoon in April of 2008, two college women’s softball teams faced each other under the blue skies of the Cascade Mountains.  One team was from Western Oregon University and the other team was from Central Washington. Inside a chain-link fence, before a few hundred fans, the two teams played a decisive game.  The winner would advance to the division playoffs.  The loser would hang up their gloves and go home.  The Western Oregon Wolves were a sturdy team that had several strong batters, Sara Tucholsky was not one of them.  She hit a strong .153 and played in the game only because the first-string right fielder had muffed a play earlier in the day. Sara had never hit a home run in her career, but on that beautiful Saturday, with two runners on base, Sara connected with a curve-ball and sent it sailing over the left-field fence.

In her excitement Sara missed first base. Her coach shouted for her to return and touch the base.  When she turned and started back, something popped in her knee and down she went.  Sarah drug herself back to first base, pulled her knee to her chest in pain, and asked the first base coach, “What do I do?”  The umpire wasn’t sure.  He knew if any of Sara’s teammates assisted her, she would be called out.  Sara knew if she tried to stand, she would collapse.  Her team couldn’t help her.  Her leg couldn’t support her. How could she cross home plate? The umpires huddled to talk.[i]

While the umpires huddled and the Sara groaned in pain, we are going to reflect on I Peter.

You and I have a lot in common with Sara.  Sometimes we, too, sit on the bench.  Sometimes we stumble and fall.  Sometimes, in our excitement, we miss stepping on first base. Sometimes we fall and our fall causes us pain, or causes others we love, pain.  Sometimes the umpires in our lives don’t know what to do with us.  We have stumbled, we have fallen, and we need to be rescued.

As I sat and studied this week, I was struck by the word that Peter used to describe how our love for one another should be: SINCERE. Peter says that our love for each other should be sincere.  The Greek word for is “ἀνυπόκριτος anupokritos” which means “unhypocritical or without hypocrisy, being authentic, upright, genuine and sincere.”  Think about it. Peter goes way back with Jesus.  He was one of the first fishermen Jesus ever called to follow Him. Peter was there for everything: the miracles, the healings, the feeding of thousands from nothing. Peter heard every single sermon Jesus ever preached. Jesus was sincere. And Peter had learned that God’s love for us is without hypocrisy, God’s love is genuine and sincere, and he wants our love for one another to be without hypocrisy. Our love is to be genuine and sincere.  Peter tells us that we should love one another “ekteno” — “deeply, fervently, earnestly, zealously, and without ceasing.” Do you have love like this? Love that is deep, fervent, earnest, sincere, and genuine.

LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

An old story from the early 1900’s illustrates to us how to love one another deeply, fervently earnestly, and without ceasing.  While on a three-story scaffold at a construction site one day, a building engineer tripped and fell toward the ground in what appeared to be a fatal fall. Right below the scaffold, a laborer looked up just as the man fell, realized that he was standing in exactly where the engineer would fall, braced himself and absorbed the full impact of the engineer’s fall. The impact slightly injured the engineer but severely hurt the laborer. The brutal collision fractured almost every bone in his body. The good news is that he recovered from the injuries, but he was severely disabled. Years later, a reporter asked the former construction laborer how the building engineer had treated him. The handicapped man told the reporter, “He gave me half of all he owns, including a share of his business. He is constantly concerned about my needs and never lets me want for anything. Almost every day he gives me some token of thanks or remembrance.”

Do you see it? Jesus is the laborer who absorbs our fall. As we round first, second or third base—and we stumble or trip—whether on our own or because of circumstances we cannot see—Jesus absorbs our fall. Often we forget that on the cross, and at Calvary, Jesus stood in our place and took the full impact of our fall.  Jesus redeemed us by His shed blood. Jesus bought us back. Jesus payed our ransom. Jesus paid in full and reclaimed each one of us, a prisoner of the war of good and evil.

So What?
Back to my opening story.  Remember, Sara, the girl we left at first base writhing a pain, clutching her knee, with one hand touching first base? Sara is a long way from home plate.  Her teammates cannot help her or she will be called out due to interference. The umpires are talking. The fans are yelling for someone to take Sara off the field. Sara does not want to leave. A hero now enters into the story, Mallory Holtman from Central Washington. Mallory was playing first base and stood listening to Sara cry in pain. Mallory was a senior that year and was her team’s home-run queen. She really wanted her team to win so that they could move on to the league finals. You would think Mallory would be happy, in a round-about way that fate often delivers, to see that Sara could not make it home. Mallory was not!  Mallory asked the umpires if it would be okay if she and another teammate carried Sara around the bases.  The umpires agreed. Mallory signaled to her shortstop and the two came to Sara, who had tears rolling down her cheeks, and lifted Sara up.  Mallory and her teammate paused at second and third base to allow Sara’s good foot to touch each base.  The fans were cheering and crying at the same time. Sara made it safely home.

(Check out the Youtube of Sara’s fantastic home-run! … https://youtu.be/yaXVk5GBx-s)

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers (and sisters), love one another deeply, from the heart.

The sincere love of Jesus is what spurs each one of us on as we learn to understand what SINCERE love is. As we read our living word of life, may we be spurred onward. May we wake up each day and focus on LOVING ONE ANOTHER. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be writing a SEED OF FAITH about your sincere love!

“Father God, thank you for loving each one of us with a genuine and sincere love. Thank you for redeeming us. Thank you that you absorb and forgive our daily falls and fails. Now, as we pray, show us how to love one another. When we see someone who has stumbled, who has fallen face first in the dirt, give us Your sincere love. Help us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER sincerely—from the heart. This week open our eyes, our ears, our mind and heart and show us someone who needs a shoulder to lean on. Amen.”

Seed you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 6/15/19

Seed of Faith – Teflon Heart   By Pastor Dave  

““As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”  Colossians 3:12-13  

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 

Dear Faithful Friends, Family of God and Saintly Seed-Sowers:
Greetings to you as we approach “Father’s Day” and the beginning of the season of Summer! We’ve already have a few over 100 degree days! The hot days of Summer are here!

First, I’d like to apologize that I did not get a Seed of Faith out to you last week.  It was a rough week in my recovery from the chelation therapy.  The good news is that I am having more good days now than bad days.  Praise the Lord!

In our last “Seed of Faith” we studied how we are called to “bear with one another.” That sounds like something I do. Bear with one another. But what about what comes next?

“Forgive One Another, as the Lord has forgiven you.”

It takes a whole lot in order for us to forgive one another, doesn’t it?  It is true that we need to be kind, compassionate, meek, humble and patient with others. And it’s really good advice for us to clothe ourselves with these awesomely-terrific qualities. Thanks, Paul. But, you know what? It’s just not as easy as it sounds.

In the midst of these “one another” passages, I think we’ve finally run into one that we all struggle with: forgiveness. We do not do this “FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER” very well, and, yet, if we read God’s word, we are going to find it. In Matthew 6, Jesus gives us what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” Get it? The Lord’s prayer. Listen to what Jesus says in verse 12, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” How about verses 14 and 15? “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Couldn’t get much clearer than that, could it? And that’s not the Apostle Paul in all his wisdom and education speaking, this is God’s one and only Son speaking.

Why don’t we forgive one another? Could Paul have tried to shine a light on this subject for us? Is it because we forget to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience? I wonder.

I’m going to share a personal story here. It’s my wife’s story about a dream she had in July of 2012. I remember it vividly because when she woke up, she jumped out of bed at 6 a.m. If you know my wife, you know she isn’t a morning person.  She needs her cup of coffee and an hour of no talking in order to jump anywhere! Here’s her story:

I had just been through a crushing 7 week-experience where I was the one who had been thoroughly crushed. I was hurt, and angry. I blamed everyone for everything. I went to sleep on July 3rd asking God to help me do the unthinkable–forgive. What transpired that night was a dream so real that, when I woke up at 6 a.m. on July 4th, I jumped out of bed yelling, “My heart. My heart. I just had heart surgery!  I’m healed!”

My husband jumped out of bed. “Slow down. Are you dreaming?” I sat back down and regurgitated my dream. I didn’t want to miss a single detail of this great dream. By nature, I’m a dreamer. I dream a lot. In many of my dreams, a person (whom I’m very comfortable calling the Holy Spirit) comes alongside me and as I take his hand, I am jet-packed from this world into another world far away. I remember that as we flew, we soared above the earth and finally stopped at a huge cathedral type building. The inside of the building was glorious! Everything was white: the ceiling, the floor, the walls. The walls had veins of gold throughout them. The next thing I remembered, I was standing against the wall. “If you stay still, this won’t hurt one bit,” the voice spoke to my heart. I’m a wise person when it comes to hurt, so I stood still, very still. The Holy Spirit reached into my body and took my heart into His hands. I remember seeing something that resembled a beating heart in His hands only it was grotesquely blackish not red. And then up the Spirit went. That’s when I noticed pillar after pillar in row after row–all white, all extremely tall, and about 3′ in diameter. The Spirit started kneeding my heart; he appeared to be looking for something. My heart had the consistency of play-dough. “Look! What is this?” He pulled out a black rock–about 3-4″ in size. I knew what the rock was. The rock was one of my oldest grudges–all the way back to childhood. And so it started and one by one the Spirit kneeded rock after rock, showing each one to me. “What’s this one?” And with each rock, I knew exactly what had caused the grudge to start with. The spirit worked and worked until my heart held no other rocks. His heart spoke to my heart, “You are a good grudge-keeper. You are one of the best grudge keepers on earth. You are one of the best ever.” I knew it was true. I had tried and tried to forgive but I just didn’t know how. I’d forgive today and take it back tomorrow. And I had repeated that system for 50 years. “I’m so sorry. I’m trying to forgive. I just don’t know how to do it fully.” The Spirit never seemed mad or angry with me as I named my grudges one by one and after what felt like days, the Spirit flipped a switch on the top of the pillar and turned on the fire. My heart was turned and rotated. And then the Spirit started forming a new heart from my old, grudge-free heart. My new heart looked a giant, valentine-style heart. Next He dipped my heart into a black, goey solution from atop the pillar. I wondered why. It looked ugly.  “Teflon. Your new heart is dipped in teflon.” At that instant, the Spirit stopped the fire and started decorating my new heart with every precious thing the earth contained: diamonds, emeralds, amethysts, sapphires, rubies, garnets. Whatever precious stones there were, my new heart now displayed them all–added to the precious stones was gold, silver, platinum, titanium, copper and every beautiful metal ever created. I watched. The Spirit worked. By the end of our time, the Spirit held up the most beautiful heart I had ever seen. The Spirit then flew (jet packed is more like it) down to where I was waiting along the wall of white marble with veins of gold. He showed me my heart. As He placed my heart back into my body, He said, “I told you this wouldn’t hurt if you held still.” Then the Spirit did one last thing. He closed my body back up and then he lovingly touched my heart area and said (from His heart to my new heart), “Now…now you have a heart like HIM. Remember your teflon heart.  When someone hurts you now, just flick that hurt right off. Your heart is coated with teflon and cannot bury those grudges anymore.” He was happy and I was, well, let’s just say, “OVER THE MOON!”

And that’s when I jumped out of bed–6 am on July 4th. I was screaming, “I just had heart surgery! My heart! My heart! I am healed. I will never be the same.” And then I told Dave all about my TEFLON HEART.

Can you see that when my wife was ready to let go of her deep hurts, pain, betrayals and unforgiveness, she was truly free to forgive? Just as God had forgiven her, she was now able to forgive.

So What?
Wow. My wife, Jac, has truly never been the same since July 4th of 2012. You can find her these days flicking her grudges off from her teflon heart. You can find her flicking her offenses off her teflon heart. You can find her flicking her sorrow, hurt, pain, shame and guilt off of her teflon heart.  My wife was amused at what an extremely good “grudge holder” she was. She thought she was good, but she didn’t know exactly how good she was. What she learned from her Teflon heart dream is that God has already forgiven her. She is free. She is forgiven.

My wife and I go around talking about being transformed by God’s grace and love. Jac knows first hand what it means to give each grudge to God. Every grudge she’s ever held was removed from her heart that night. Her heart of stone was made into a heart of love, a heart like Jesus’.  As we close out our series on BEAR WITH ONE ANOTHER…let us take a moment to refresh our Scripture:

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:12-13

As you fall into bed tonight, if you find any rock-hard grudges in your heart, hand them over to God–one by one. Envision your heart being de-grudged. Envision your heart being coated in Teflon. Envision every precious metal and jewel decorating your heart–you know, your new heart that looks just like Christ’s?

SEED YOU SUNDAY!

God loves you with an inexorable love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 6/2/2018

Seed of Faith – Bear With One Another   By Pastor Dave  

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2.

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers:
Thank you for your prayers and support over the past 13 weeks of  my chelation. I feel as though I have turned the corner.  I’m having more good days than bad days.  Praise the Lord! My wife was right; she told me that week 13 I’d turn the corner and by week 16 this will all be a bad memory!  Week 16 coincides with my 65th birthday, so hurry up, Medicare AND week 16! Continuing on in the work of the faith, I do have a really good reason as to why I’m late getting this out this week: 1. The church bought a new laptop for me! Along with that, let’s just say I’ve been downloading for days, and learning a new computer. 2. I moved out of my “in home” office into the garage! As most of you know, the Lord blessed us last July with a new home in SOCAL! We bought the home with our youngest daughter, her husband and their three kids. And while it was great for me to have a home office, it bothered me to see the two “boys” head to their bedroom each night. The “boys” are now 6’1 and 6’3″, 185 pounds and 200. And so, I moved myself out into the garage (thanking God that I felt well enough) and moved one grandson into my old office.  Meanwhile, the two grands upstairs decided to also trade rooms. While I had visions of sitting in my garage and getting organized, I moved 3 grands rooms, the shed and the garage. Add to all of this the fact that our daughter had shoulder surgery, well, maybe consider this SEED OF FAITH a miracle instead of complaining about why it’s so late! Besides, I’m helping you learn to BEAR with one another as you learn to bear with me and my million excuses for being tardy!

We continue today with our series on the “ONE ANOTHER” passages found in the Bible.  Today we will look at humbling, yet powerful, words: “BEAR WITH ONE ANOTHER.”

Be honest now, what comes to your mind when you read or hear these four words? I asked my wife and she replied, “Do I have to?” I think we all have a little hesitation when it comes to this idea to bear with one another, to forgive one another, to be humble with one another, and to be patient with one another.

Bear with one another!
What comes just before this in our Scripture? Look it up.  Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Yes, today’s message is going to get personal as we learn how to bear with one another. I’ve already gone from preaching to meddling in four paragraphs.

The Apostle Paul writes, “Bear with one another in love.  Bear with one another and forgive one another as you have been forgiven.” As we “live together” as brothers and sisters in Christ, we get to know each other’s idiosyncrasies and we are faced with this challenge to “bear with one another in love.” When we are tempted to be impatient with one another, we need to think about Jesus Christ and His attitude toward us. Christ has forgiven us. Christ has also forgiven the one whom you are learning to bear with!

The Greek word for “bear” — ἀνέχομαι (anechomai) means to “endure, to have patience, to accept, to endure something unpleasant or difficult.” Did you hear that? Anechomai—endure with that person, have patience with that person, accept that person, and endure what’s unpleasant and difficult. HOW in the world are we supposed to DO this?

Here are a couple of ways that I have learned to “bear with one another.” And believe me, being in the ministry is often like being in the movie GROUND HOG’S DAY with Bill Murray. Just the other day, my wife and I were talking about how during the first 40 years of our lives, we never once received an anonymous letter telling us about all of our Christian faults. Nope. Not once. Once I went to seminary, the letters started coming. I’m not exactly sure about why but I have learned through these anonymous letters how to live Colossians and Ephesians. I think I best sum it up by saying: HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE.

The honest truth is, I do have my own weaknesses and idiosyncrasies that I ask others to bear with me. If I have them, I know that we all have them. I’ve come up with a list of practical questions that you can ask yourself:

1. What do I do (or not do) at home that irritates the people I live with?
2. What do I do (or not do) at church that irritates my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?
3. What do I do (or not do) at work and/or school that irritates my fellow employees and/or teachers and fellow students?
4. What do I do (or not do) that irritates the people that I associate with during the week? (You know, the outer circle of your life—sports, drama, the gym, the grocery store, TARGET—all those other places you go to during the week.)
5.  Do I expect more from others than I do from myself?
6.  Do I criticize others? Do I hold others to a higher standard than I hold myself to?

When I get one of those anonymous letters, I have to think of this list. Just because someone works in ministry doesn’t mean they have the heartbeat on being Christ-like. We are still sinners and we fail. When I get down to questions 5 and 6, I can understand that others hold me more accountable; they expect more from me than I can do, and it’s easy to criticize. After I received my third anonymous letter, I asked my Spiritual Director how to handle it. “Dave, when someone writes you an anonymous, critical letter, you file it. Under T for trash. The person is so hurt that they can’t even sign their name. Hurt people hurt and hurt people hurt people like you. The next thing you do is to forgive them and move on.” I’ve only received a handful of letters but I have found these six questions to be helpful and I’ve also found my mentor’s advice to be true.

Paul tells us that we need to clothe ourselves “with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

Forgive One Another, as the Lord has forgiven you. I’m so thankful for God’s forgiveness. I say, “I’m sorry” and I’m immediately forgiven by God. When Christ died on the cross, I believe He uttered, “IT IS FINISHED.” My sin crucified.  Your sin crucified. It’s a done deal. It is finished.

And yet it takes a whole, heck of a lot in order for us to bear with one another and to forgive one another. This is why I love the Colossians and the Ephesians verses.   We need to be kind, compassionate, meek, humble and patient with others. Did you hear what Paul wrote, “CLOTHE.” Clothe yourself with those awesomely terrific qualities.

Corrie ten Boom survived a Nazi concentration camp during WW2. She has written and shared many of her stories of forgiveness.  She shared about meeting one of the guards from the same prison camp where her sister died, where she was held during the war.  The guard had come to hear her speak. I’ve used this illustration before. Do you remember? The guard asked Corrie to forgive him. He stuck out his hand and said, “FORGIVE me.” It took her a moment, but she did take his hand, and she did say that she forgave him. (“Tramp for the Lord”)

“I wish I could say after a long and fruitful life traveling the world, I had learned to forgive all my enemies. I wish I could say that merciful and charitable thoughts just naturally flowed from me and on to others. But they don’t. There is one thing I’ve learned since I’ve passed my eightieth birthday, it’s that I can’t store up good feelings and behavior—but only draw them fresh from God each day.

Maybe I’m glad it’s that way, for every time I go to Him, He teaches me something else. I recall the time—and I was almost seventy—when some Christian friends whom I loved and trusted did something which hurt me. You would have thought that, having been able to forgive the guards in Ravensbruck, forgiving Christian friends would be child’s play. It wasn’t. For weeks I seethed inside. But at last I asked God again to work His miracle in me. And again it happened: first, the cold-blooded decision, then the flood of joy and peace. I had forgiven my friends; I was restored to my Father. Then, why was I suddenly awake in the middle of the night, rehashing the whole affair again? ‘They were my friends!’ I thought. ‘People I loved. If it had been strangers, I wouldn’t have minded so. I sat up and switched on the light. ‘Father, I thought it was all forgiven. Please help me do it…again.’ The next night I woke up again. “They’d talked so sweetly, too! Never a hint of what they were planning.’ ‘Father!’ I cried in alarm. ‘Help me!’

Then it was that another secret of forgiveness became evident. It is not enough to simply say, “\’I forgive you.’ I must also begin to live it out. And in my case, that meant acting as though their sins, like mine, were buried in the depths of the deepest sea. If God could remember them no more—and He had said, “[Your] sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17)—then neither should I. And the reason the thoughts kept coming back to me was that I kept turning their sin over in my mind.

And so I discovered another of God’s principles: We can trust God not only for emotions but also for our thoughts. As I asked Him to renew my mind, He also took away my thoughts.  He still had more to teach me, however, even from this single episode. Many years later, after I had passed my eightieth birthday, an American friend came to visit me in Holland. As we sat in my little apartment in Baarn, he asked me about those people from long ago who had taken advantage of me. ‘It is nothing,’ I said a little smugly. ‘It is all forgiven.’ ‘By you, yes,’ he said. ‘But what about them? Have they accepted your forgiveness?’ ‘They say there is nothing to forgive! They deny it ever happened. No matter what they say, though, I can prove they were wrong.’ I went eagerly to my desk. ‘See, I have it in black and white!I saved all their letters and I can show you where…’
‘Corrie!’ My friend slipped his arm through mine and gently closed the drawer. ‘Aren’t you the one whose sins are at the bottom of the sea? Yet are the sins of your friends etched in black and white?’

For an astonishing moment I could not find my voice. ‘Lord Jesus,’ I whispered at last, ‘who takes all my sins away, forgive me for preserving all these years the evidence against others! Give me grace to burn all the blacks and whites as a sweet-smelling sacrifice to Your glory.’

I did not go to sleep that night until I had gone through my desk and pulled out those letters—curling now with age—and fed them all into my little coal-burning grate. As the flames leaped and glowed, so did my heart. ‘Forgive us our trespasses,’ Jesus taught us to pray, ‘as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ In the ashes of those letters I was seeing yet another facet of His mercy. What more He would teach me about forgiveness in the days ahead I didn’t know, but tonight’s was good news enough.

Forgiveness is the key which unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. The forgiveness of Jesus not only takes away our sins, it makes them as if they had never been.”[i]

So What? WOW. That’s “so what!” You may or may not know that these SEEDS OF FAITH come from my Sunday messages. When I preached this message, I added that maybe you were holding onto something like Corie. Maybe it isn’t a letter, maybe it’s a gift that you begrudge. Maybe it’s an email or a text that you can trace back from here to kingdom come. After I was done preaching this message, I had three people walk up and tell me that they were going to take care of business. One woman deleted several emails, one woman deleted a text thread, and one woman gave away a precious gift that she loved but had been terribly hurt by the giver since. You know what? Not one of these people has told me that they regretted their actions. Matter of fact, they all agreed that they feel freer than they did before.

What do these ancient words of life have for us to hear and learn today?

Bear with one another through the kindness and compassion that God has given us.  Remember to ask yourself some of those thought-provoking questions above. Maybe it’s time to shred those emails, texts, cards,  or letters you have been holding onto. Maybe it is time to give away that precious, priceless gift that every time you see it, you teeter between sadness, sorrow, or shame.

Many years ago, my wife read a book about downsizing. We’ve been downsizing since 2010. Recently she shared her thoughts with me:  Start by making three piles– KEEP, GIVE AWAY, TRASH. And when you come to those things that you’re not sure about, ask yourself this question, “Does this thing bring me joy or take my joy away?” If it brings me joy, I can keep it or give it away. If it takes my joy, I give it away to the Salvation Army.”

Today’s message is for you:  Let go and forgive! Remember to forgive as the Lord has already and completely forgiven you. First, CLOTHE YOURSELF WITH THE GOOD STUFF: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Once you’re clothed, bear with one another. It’s much easier to do once you remember the compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience of the cross.

SEED YOU SUNDAY!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 5/24/19

Seed of Faith – Appreciate and Accept One Another  By Pastor Dave  

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:5-7 ESV

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers!

May you all have a glorious and wonderful Memorial Weekend.  May we stop and remember those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom and may God bring to your remembrance how you were first accepted and welcomed by God.

We are going to make one more run down the road of grace; we are going to finally bring home this simple, yet often difficult, idea of what it means to welcome, accept, appreciate and gather together one another.

Recently I read a story about a speaker who gave a motivational talk. There were 200 people in the audience and he began by holding up a $20.00 dollar bill.  The speaker asked who would like to have the $20 dollar bill.  Almost all the hands went up immediately. The speaker then proceeded crumple up the $20 dollar bill.  Then he asked who would like the crumpled 20 dollar bill and most of the hands went up.  Then the speaker dropped the $20 on the floor and stomped on it and ground the 20 dollar bill into the ground with his shoe. He picked it up and held up the crumpled, dirty $20 bill. “Who still wants this crumpled, dirty $20 bill.”  All hands went up in the air.  The speaker said, “My friends, you have learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still a $20 dollar bill.”  

The truth is that many times in our life we’ve been dropped, crumpled up, stepped on and gotten pretty dirty. Adversity, trials, tribulations, tensions, temptations and many sins entangle us and cause us to stumble, crumble and fall. In turn we begin to feel worthless. Maybe there are others who also judge us to be worthless. I want you to hear and know and believe the good news:  no matter what happens to you, you will never lose your value in God’s eyes. Dirty or clean, finely pressed or crumpled up. smooth and shiny, or cracked and chipped, you are always priceless in God’s eyes. The Bible is filled with scripture after scripture that affirm our worth. Here is one of my favorites found in Psalm 115:12, “The Lord REMEMBERS us and will bless us…Hhe will bless those who fear the Lord, small and great alike!” This past week has not been an easy week, I’ve felt a little crumpled up and stepped on. The truth is that no matter what someone else may say about you, please be true to who you are in Christ. In the end, we will understand that we are not people pleasers, we are God pleasers.

We’ve  been looking at the ONE ANOTHER passages in the bible.  For three weeks, we’ve studied about what it means to WELCOME ONE ANOTHER, to ACCEPT ONE ANOTHER, and to APPRECIATE ONE ANOTHER. I encourage you to take read Romans 15:1-7 over this next week. Find some quiet time and ask God to show you who you really are and how you can appreciate, accept and welcome one another.

So What?
In January of 1998 I accepted my first position in ordained ministry. I was the Senior, and only, pastor in a small church in Missouri. I didn’t go in to do anything different or to change things up.  They had persevered through a hard trial and said they were ready for a new pastor. My wife and I loved the area, and we thought we’d live there forever. Growing up in a small farm town near Chicago, we were familiar with buying our meat from an area butcher. We found a local butcher and began filling our freezer with all kinds of pork and beef and chicken–and even deer. I don’t know if you know this about me but I tend to be a relationship junky. People are my hobby as well as reading. No matter where we’ve lived, I’ve made friends with our postman, our pizza guy, our banker, our grocery clerks, our barbers and on and on down the line. Many of these people are still my friends to this day. As fate would have it, I made friends with the butcher, his wife and daughter. Before too long, they were attending church and inviting others who frequented their butcher shop to join them. I really liked this family. (By the way, they were from California and had moved to Missouri to escape the freeways and to live a simpler life.)

These people loved the Lord with all of their hearts. They never missed a Sunday, they brought their own bibles to church with them, they came to the Sunday morning Bible Study that I led and, every once in a while, the butcher hollered out, “AMEN, pastor” as I preached. They were lovely people.

One day, about a year in to my arrival, I was invited to the doctor’s house for lunch. The doctor and his wife provided a wonderful lunch and great fellowship. After lunch, they told me that they needed to share something with me. A group from the church had asked the doctor and his wife to share with us that the butcher and his family were nice enough people, but they were from the wrong side of town and they didn’t belong at our church. I suppose my face said it all because the doctor continued. He pointed to the fancy, china place-setting of our lunch. “Look, pastor, there’s a plate, a napkin, a glass, and utensils here. Every one of these things represents a separate church. All of the plates in town go to the plate church.  All of the glasses go to the glass church. Let’s just say our church is the folded napkin church and all of the nicely folded napkins go to this napkin church.” As he spoke, I noticed that my napkin had been used and I had left it unfolded on the table. I took my napkin and asked if it belonged in the folded napkin church. To this very day, I remember the look on his face as  he said, “Pastor, this napkin doesn’t belong because it isn’t folded like the rest of the other napkins. It needs to go to the crumpled up napkin church.” He seemed relieved that I was getting his point.

“Wait!” I said. “What if Jesus works in this crumpled up napkin’s life and makes it square, and folded again? Can it come to the church of the square, folded napkins?” The doctor and his wife looked at each other and then they looked at me. “No, pastor, no they can’t. They’re too different.” That very next Sunday, during Adult Sunday School—a group of 30 members walked in and said they wanted to have a members only meeting. All of the non-members left and the meeting started. The main goal of this meeting was for me to take the list of the people they didn’t like so that I could go ask them to stop coming to our church and go to another church. I was truly dumb founded. I remember looking at the people in the circle of chairs.  They passed me their list. I looked at them and said, “Church is supposed to be open to anyone. Jesus calls the people in. We are to welcome and love those He calls. I’m sorry but I cannot do as you ask.”

It was a rocky road for the next six months. I called in the executive board from our denomination. We had meeting after meeting. After several months of trying to reconcile this situation, the executive board’s forecast was that I should leave because the people weren’t budging. I was broken-hearted as I found my way to my office to pick up my car keys and briefcase. As I opened the door, take one guess as to who was sitting in my chair praying for me? The butcher. He said he heard about the meetings and that he wanted to come and pray for me.  He told me that he would leave the church if I wanted him to go.  All because the butcher and his family were from the north side of town and the church was on the south side.

I’m still friends with the butcher and his wife and his family and that was 21 years ago. Matter of fact, the butcher was the one who said, “Go west, pastor, you were made for California.” Wise advice from a wise man. Twenty years ago, I felt like a total failure as I searched for a new call. I’d been crumpled up, stepped on and ground into the dirt on this first mission trip of ordained ministry. Yet the ONE who created me never gave up on me. He breathed life into my heart as He took my crumpled up mess of a napkin and ironed it back out into a square, folded one!

As long as I live I will never forget the lesson the real church of the folded napkin taught me:
Accept One Another, welcome one another, receive one another, take along one another as a companion, and gather together. That’s why I wanted to spend three weeks on accepting one another, on welcoming one another. I think Fred Rogers was right when he said,  “When we look for what’s best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does; so in appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.”

This is your SO WHAT? Homework for the week:  No matter where you go, look for the best in the person you’re with. This is how Christ lived his life, looking for the best in the people he was with. And remember that no matter what you have done, no matter where you’ve gone, no matter how crumpled up and stepped on you are–when you turn back to God, you are accepted. You are welcome. You are received. You are taken along as Christ’s companion. You are gathered together under His wings–no exceptions.

I saw Jesus in that butcher that night as I opened the door to my office. I was utterly defeated. I was a failure in my first church call. The butcher and I prayed that night. We prayed and we prayed and we prayed. That was the night I learned one of the most important lessons of my ministry:
1.  there is never a wrong time to do the right thing   and 2. all a crumpled napkin ever needs is the love of Jesus.

When we welcome one another, we welcome Christ, for the glory of God. You are loved. More than you could ask or imagine, you are loved! “May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 115:14-15

Seed 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.

Weekly Seed of Faith Blog 5/18/19

Seed of Faith – Welcome One Another  By Pastor Dave  

So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!”
Romans 15:7 The Message Bible

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers:
Greetings in the love and grace of God.

I hope and pray that you are doing well and being blessed by the Lord. It is a joy and blessing to hear so many responses to the Seed of Faith each week.  Your responses are a great opportunity for me to connect with you and to pray for you.  Thank you for your prayers and support, especially during the past several months. I have been going through my chelation treatments and just finished my last round of drugs. My body is now fighting to overcome the chelation chemicals.  My wife cheers me on each day, “By mid-June, you will feel so much better!” Til then, I covet your prayers.

Last week we looked at Romans 15:1-7 for the first time in our “One Another” series. I encourage you to take the time and read our scripture. I used a different version this week from the late Eugene Peterson’s Message Bible.  He was a phenomenal writer and pastor, and had a way of looking at the scriptures and putting them into our English language so that we can understand them better. In last week’s SEED OF FAITH, I shared the story about a mission trip to Mexico and also shared a wonderful quote from Mister Rogers, “When we look for what’s best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does; so in appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.”

Last week we looked at the idea of accepting one another. This week we will look at accepting one another. The Greek word for “accept” is “προσλαμβάνω proslambanō’ and it means, “to receive, to welcome, to take along as a companion, or to gather together.” WELCOME ONE ANOTHER.

Jesus taught acceptance.  He ate with tax collectors and sinners.  He went out to the sick and broken.  Jesus welcomed the outcasts. Jesus does the same for us. Have you ever stopped to think that Jesus has accepted us? Jesus receives us as we are, welcomes us as we are. Takes us along as His companion, and gathers together with us without fail. We are accepted and welcomed by our Lord.

This pauses me to question myself?  Why don’t I receive, accept, welcome, gather together, take along as a companion—the others I meet along the way? Jesus does. So should I.

I would like to share a personal story that has touched my life. May we all learn to welcome and accept others as Christ has welcomed and accepted us.

When I lived in Rochelle, a young, vibrant girl from our church went on vacation to Canada with her family. We knew the family well. Mary was 13. During their trip, Mary got bit by a mosquito that infected her brain with encephalitis. Mary had been a normal junior high girl who made great grades. That summer, everything changed for Mary. Mary now faced the daily challenges of dealing with a partially paralyzed body. Overnight Mary’s life had changed. One thing about Mary never changed, her joy and her cheerfulness and her beautiful smile. My wife and Mary became fast friends. Mary had learned how to ride a bike and soon she became a daily visitor in our home. Mary would stop by to tell my wife where she going, what she was doing. Mary always wanted to pray, so they prayed. For 20 years, Jac and Mary had a wonderful friendship. Mary loved the lord Jesus with all of her heart, soul and mind, and she told everyone about Him! Mary was the kind of person who radiated the love and acceptance of Jesus. She never met a person she didn’t like!  After 20 years of calling Mary her BFF, we entered the ministry life and left Rochelle. My wife prayed hard for Mary to find another BFF and she did–right around the corner from where we lived. Every time we went back to Rochelle for a visit, we could count on finding Mary at church and, later, on our doorstep. We talked about the “good old days” and we cried and laughed and prayed together. Mary had become independent enough through the years to move into an apartment of her own and had us over for tea whenever we were “back home.” And, as God would have it, the years marched on. Mary had fallen gravely ill. We went back home and drove over to her apartment. Her family told us that Mary was close to death, and that she was unresponsive and had been for a day. As we knelt down on the floor by her bed, we took her hand in ours, and spoke to our friend. We told her how much we loved her. We thanked her for being who she was and for the many happy visits we had received from her over the years. We knew she was ready to meet Jesus. After we prayed, we stood up and saw crocodile tears rolling down her cheeks. She had heard us. She knew we had come to say good bye. Later that day Mary passed into the heavenly kingdom and was now BFF with Jesus. The one who had welcomed and accepted every single person she had ever met was now welcomed and accepted by Christ.

Why do I tell you this story? Because not everyone in town accepted or welcomed Mary. Mary was different. Mary cried a lot and laughed a lot. I share this story because Mary did one thing very well: she accepted and welcomed everyone she ever met. She didn’t care who you were, or what you did. And every time Mary left you on her bike, she would always smile, wave, and say, “Remember, Jesus loves you and so do I.” And off she would go to spread the love, the joy, the kindness of Christ with our little town. She was something sacred and special. She always looked for the best in every single person she met.

“When we look for what’s best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does; so in appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.”

(I also tell you this story because I want you to know that when you are standing by the bedside of someone who is gravely ill, they may not be able to respond to you but they can still hear you. Speaking words of love to them can be one of your last acts of kindness before they leave our world.)

So what?
Next week we will continue to learn how to accept and welcome one another. I have another great story to share with you. This week, work on looking for the best in the people you are with. That’s your homework: Accept One Another. Welcome one another. Receive one another. Take along one another as a companion. Gather together with one another.
No matter where you go, look for the best in the people you’re with. This is how Christ lived: looking for the best in the people he was with.

It’s truly a sacred thing to do.

Seed you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love.    Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701  

Weekly Seed of Faith 5/2/19

Seed of Faith – Submit to One Another   By Pastor Dave  

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers!

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.  I pray that you know that God has you in His strong and loving grip of grace.  I also pray that you learn to rest in this everlasting love!

Over the past few weeks, we have been looking at what I call “The One Another Principles.”  We have been looking at and reflecting on the “One Another”passages in the Bible.

We have looked at:

“Greet One Another,”
“Honor One Another”
“Be Devoted to One Another” and
“Serve One Another.”

Today we tackle a tough subject, “SUBMIT TO ONE ANOTHER.”

Here are a few passages of Scripture to set the stage and to give us ground to build upon.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Romans 13:1

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. I Peter 2:12-17

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:21

Today we tackle a tough subject:
Submit —
Submit to God. Submit to authorities. Submit to one another. Husbands Submit to God — Wives Submit to Husband — Husband Submit  to Wives and God — Children Submit to Parents — Employees Submit to your Employers — Students Submit to your Teachers — Teachers Submit to your Administrators — Brothers and Sisters Submit to Brothers and Sisters!  Do you get the picture?!  Submit!  We are called to submit!

Let’s go straight to the Greek word for submit: ὑποτάσσω hupotassō which means to place or rank under, to subject, to obey.”  Place yourself under one another. Rank under one another. Obey one another. If you haven’t gone to see the movie BREAKTHROUGH, please do. Everyone has trouble learning to SUBMIT…to God…and to one another.

Who here likes to submit? Who wakes up in the morning thinking, “I sure hope there’s a rash of submission happening in my life today?” “There isn’t anything I love more than submitting.” Yet, we all know that true freedom is often found when we finally do submit.

When J. Wilbur Chapman, American evangelist, was in London, he had an opportunity to meet General Booth, who at that time was past eighty years of age. General Booth started the Salvation Army. Dr. Chapman listened reverently as the old general spoke of the trials and the conflicts and the victories. The American evangelist then asked the general if he would disclose his secret for success. “He hesitated a second,” Dr. Chapman said, “and I saw the tears come into his eyes and steal down his cheeks, and then he said, ‘I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I, men with greater opportunities; but from the day I got the poor of London on my heart, and a vision of what Jesus Christ could do with the poor of London, I made up my mind that God would have all of William Booth there was. And if there is anything of power in the Salvation Army today, it is because God has all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life.'” Dr. Chapman said he went away from that meeting with General Booth knowing “that the greatness of a man’s power is found in the measure of his surrender.”[i]

George Mueller, Christian evangelist and director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, used to say that he first asked and then settled the questions concerning any proposed measure: “Is this the Lord’s work?” “Is this the Lord’s way?” “Is this the Lord’s time? Sounds like pretty good wisdom to me.

So What?
Every one of us has a decision to make when we come face to face with the cross. Did you know that? You can’t just face the cross and stand there—either you will knee or bow in total submission or you will stand there and walk away. Submission is a personal thing. A choice we each get faced with daily. Will we submit, or will we demand our own way? Will I submit to God each day? Or will I choose to go it alone?  Frank Sinatra’s “MY WAY” comes to mind.

The bible statisticians have developed a formula. The stats are that God normally pursues a person in 7 different attempts in order to capture our heart, soul, mind and life. I remember when I accepted Jesus. I was 12 just days away from my 13th birthday. My oldest brother had just been killed in a car accident. The people who came to the funeral home all said, “You’ll see Gary again…in heaven.”  I asked my Nanny how. How could I be sure I’d see my brother again?  My Nanny told me all about Jesus. I wanted more than anything to see my brother again and to be reunited with him.  I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I was going to heaven! I would see my brother again. But deep inside there lurked an anger within my heart, and while I had what you call “FIRE INSURANCE”…I started to live like hell. I started drinking at 13. During the next ten years, God tried many times to capture my heart. Here’s my own words, I kept Jesus as my savior in my back pocket—like a lucky rabbit’s foot hanging from my belt loop. When I was really afraid, or sad, I would remember that one day I would see my brother again. I finished junior high and and high school and I went off to college nine hours from home to a little town called Kirksville, MO. I joined a fraternity—and I’m pretty sure that was NOT God trying to capture my heart! I met this beautiful girl from St. Louis and I pursued her. On our first date, I picked up on a stolen tricycle (which I returned.) We stopped the little creek that ran through campus and I retrieved the six pack of beer I had keeping cold. That brown-eyed beauty said, “My dad is going to kill you when he finds out.” I asked her where her dad was. St. Louis?  That’s four hours away–we have plenty of time. I pursued this young lady and we got married. At our wedding, we chose the song, FOLLOW ME by John Denver.  Little did I know that this was God’s calling on our marriage. “Follow me, where I go, what I do, who I know. Take my hand and say you’ll follow me.” During the first 7 years (huh, 7?)  of our marriage, I lived a hard life. During this time, my wife, accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.  She tried to tell me all about Him and how Jesus had captured her heart.  She had submitted to God. During the 7th year of our marriage, my wife brought me to a couple’s bible study. My favorite high school teacher was leading it, so I went. On a cold winter’s night in January, I rededicated my life to God—I accepted Jesus as my LORD and my SAVIOR. I got down on my knees and I submitted. I submitted my heart, I submitted my life.  Pretty soon I was going to church with my wife and kids—and nothing made my Nanny happier. I became a leader in the church and led many youth to Christ. I made one of those grace weekends you always hear about. I got a cross and one Sunday my Nanny pulled it out of my shirt and said, “David, this cross means you are going to become a pastor.” My hero, my Nanny, died that week.  I’ll never forget the look on her face when she told me I was going to become a pastor.

Surrender isn’t giving up something you don’t want … It’s giving up what you do want.
 
Victory isn’t walking across the goal line …It’s struggling through opposition to the goal.

Trust isn’t going just where the lights are … It’s following through the dark valleys.
 

Love isn’t giving when others are giving … It’s giving when others are not giving.

Faith isn’t overflowing to others … It’s emptying itself to others.
P.L Tan

Our lesson for today is two-fold. First, God wants us to submit our heart to Him. Second, God wants us to live a life of harmony with one another. God wants us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

God used a really hard season of my life in order to pursue me. Finally, when I could run away no more, I faced the cross. And instead of turning and running the other direction, I faced that cross because I knew that Jesus Christ had died for me. God had put me into His tumbler and  tumbled away most of the rough edges so that I could live in harmony with others and submit.

My hero, my Nanny died in 1986. I chuckled that she thought my cross meant I’d become a pastor….until 1992 when I felt the call of God on my life. It took a little over ten years but in 1997 I was ordained into full-time ministry as a pastor. The hound of heaven had pursued me.

One of our church members gave us a sign when we moved into our new home. When my wife opened it, she said, “I know the perfect place for this.” She hung it above the window in our bedroom. The sign reads, “In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.” It’s the first thing we see as we begin each new day.

So What?  Have you stood and faced the cross? Have you surrendered? Or are you still singing, “My Way”? If you are still singing, I’m praying for the hound of heaven to find you. I’m praying that you will learn to submit out of your deep respect for what Christ did for you on the cross. Once I submitted to Christ, I understood the tapping on my head at the funeral home, “You’ll see Gary again.” I fought that. I let my anger control many bad choices. I tried my hardest to do it my way. In the end, I stood, yet again, at that empty cross. I was tired of walking away. I was tired of hurting people that I loved. There had to be a better way. That January night, after hearing Romans 8, I submitted my heart and my life to Christ. Nothing’s ever been the same.

It’s my prayer for you.

SEED YOU SUNDAY

God loves you with and everlasting love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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 4/27/19

Seed of Faith – Serve One Another   By Pastor Dave  

“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?” Galatians 5:13-15 The Message Bible

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:

We made it! Lent is history and Easter is still a mystery! The tomb is empty and Jesus is alive! Hallelujah!

I have to be honest with you, sometimes the church calendar feels more like a glacier than a calendar! We move from Advent to Christmas to Lent to Easter and, to be honest with you, us pastors are nothing but exhausted! Keep praying for your pastor.  Right about now they can use a text, an email, a phone call, a slap on the back that says, “Hallelujah! YOU MADE IT! The tomb is empty, Pastor! Jesus is alive…and YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT!”

Today we come to another “One Another” statement found in  the Scripture!  We have looked at “Greet One Another,”  “Be Devoted to One Another,” “Honor One Another,” and “Live in Harmony with One Another!” 

When I started working on this sermon series, the Lord put it on my heart to seek His understanding of what “One Another” meant from His perspective.  It hit me this week, and not just the chelation cycle 4 of 5.  What hit me were the thoughts of how my life, our family, the church, our schools, and work places would change if only we understood the principles of “one another.” What would happen is we greeted one another each day? What would happen if we were devoted to our spouse, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, schools and churches? What would happen is we honored others and chose to live in harmony with one another?

Our Scripture for today is written by the Apostle Paul and he wrote it to the church in Galatia and Ephesus.  The Galatian church was struggling with legalism and the Ephesian church was needing encouragement.  What’s Paul’s answer? SERVE ONE ANOTHER.

When you hear the word “serve,” what comes to your mind?  When I thought about the word “serve” a bunch of questions flashed across my brain.  How well do I serve? Who or what do I serve? When do I serve? How do I serve? What is my attitude when I serve? Why do I serve? How much should I serve?  “You, my brothers (and sisters), were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love Galatians 5:13

Here’s a fun game. Rate yourself from 0 to 10 (zero is the lowest) with a scorecard. Here are the questions. (I’m going from preaching to meddling now.)

·      How well do I serve?

·         How well do I serve others?

·         How well do I serve my spouse?

·         How well do I serve my children?

·         How well do I serve my co-workers?

·         How well do I serve my church?

I find it interesting that one of the Greek words for “serve” is “doulos.” Duolos is translated as “slave or servant.” Are you a slave or a servant in your serving? (Hey, I told you I went from preaching to meddling!) There are four basic words in the New Testament that are translated “serve,” “servant,” or “serving.” All of these words have one basic concept.  The concept of serving. The words serve, servant, slave, serving are used over 300 times with 130 of those times in the Gospels and Acts, and approximately 170 times in the Epistles. This averages out to have the word “serve” used 10 times in each book of the New Testament. The two words that are used the most frequently are douleo and diakoneo. Douleo literally means “to be a slave, to serve, to obey, to submit.” It’s used in both a good and bad sense. On the positive side, the word douleo means to serve God and others in the context of Christian love. On the negative side, douleo means to become a slave to a base power. For example, in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, he taught that we can be “slaves to sin.” Romans 6:6

Diakoneo literally means “table waiter or servant.”  We get the words deacon or minister from diakoneo. Think about having a really terrific table waiter at dinner. Your table waiter can literally make or break your meal time. A really great table waiter has to have some sort of mental list that they go by: introduce yourself, tell them about the specials, get their drink order. Come back with their drink orders and see if they have any questions or if they are ready to order. Bring their order out and serve them with a happy heart and smile. Bring their ticket but tell them there’s no hurry.  Yes.  You got it–that is exactly what we’re supposed to be like in our families, in our employment, in our schools, in our churches. We’re supposed to be really great table waiters. Are you? Are you a really good table waiter?

So who or what do you serve?  How do you serve?  Do you serve yourself before you serve others? Do you serve God? Do you serve money?  Jesus told His follower in The Sermon on the Mount that we cannot serve two masters. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”  Matthew 6:24

When James and John’s mother came to Jesus and asked if her two sons could sit on the right and the left of Jesus when he came into His Kingdom, Jesus responded with a powerful statement of servanthood. “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28 These are powerful words!  If you want to be first, you need to be a slave!  Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve.

Here’s the question put just a little differently: HOW’S YOUR SERVE?

When my family lived in Rochelle, Illinois, I worked in the Goodyear tire business and GMC truck business during the week and served our church as co-youth pastors with my wife.  During the 18 years we served as youth pastors, we helped to organize at least 9 “Go-N-Serve” mission trips for our youth.  Every other year we would choose a location and raise our funds and we would take the youth on a “Go-N-Serve” Mission. These mission trips were a time to teach the youth how to serve others and for them to experience more about God and living in community with others.  We’ve visited Colorado, Florida, Missouri, North Dakota, Vermont and all the states in between. A Go-N-Serve mission trip consisted of our  youth group serving and working for a week. We did many different jobs: we worked in old cemeteries refurbishing them, we worked in retreat camps restoring, in Florida we worked with Habitat for Humanity building homes. Every other year, 20-40 teenagers signed up to “GO AND SERVE” and an additional ten to twelve adults loaded up and traveled with us.  We were gone for 10-14 days. We drove out in vans and camped along the way. Once we arrived at our work site, we wanted to teach the youth that serving is an opportunity for them to give back.  It was an opportunity for them to learn how to serve one another with a cheerful heart. Our work days consisted of working from 8 am until early afternoon. They then had the rest of the day to rest or play and, almost always, a lake, river, or ocean were involved in their leisure time. Night time was group time—time to talk about our day and have devotions to close out the night.

On one of our trips, we were headed from Chicago to Vermont. We spent the week restoring and renovating a camp ground and retreat center.  The kids stayed in cabins along the lake. On our way to Camp Wilmot, we stopped for the night outside of Buffalo, New York.  We had arrived too late to set up camp and cook dinner for 40 people, so we decided to set up camp and go into town for pizza. We set up all the tents and headed into town. When we arrived back to the camp, we found a mess. All of our tents had been knocked down.  When the youth started checking their tents and belongings, they found toothpaste squeezed into their pillows and sleeping bags, and all their belongings had been tossed all around.  To say the least, everyone was really upset.  I went to the camp host and explained what had happened.  The host said that the winds coming off Lake Erie were really powerful.  It could even have been a mini-tornado.  I asked the man if the winds knew how to open toothpaste and squeeze it out into sleeping bags.  The host looked at me blankly. The camp was called Mini-tonka…but we began calling it “the Winds of Mini HaHa.”

It turned out that the camp host had several teenage children and they had been sitting on the ledges by the bathrooms when we were setting up. We were pretty sure they were the culprits.  Some of our youth football players wanted to go over and pick a fight with them to get even.  I sat the kids down and led a campfire devotion on becoming a servant and serving one another. We had a long discussion that night on forgiveness and grace.  The kids asked if we could invite the teenage culprits over to join us for smores and stories. As the evening began to unfold, the camp kids told our youth that they were sorry, they had torn up our campsites. Our youth told the boys that they were forgiven. We left the next day but we promised to come stay there on our way home. When we arrived after our week of serving in Vermont, the boys had our fire ready and smores waiting. Serving is an opportunity to grow.

“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?” Galatians 5:13-15 The Message Bible

Your “so what” challenge this week is for you to look and see someone you can serve.  Make a mental note of this idea and try to serve one person each day.  See how your life will be changed.  See how the life of the person you serve will be changed.

I know several people right here in our church who chose this idea as their Lenten project. Each day they looked for the opportunity to serve. My wife said my message on serving one another had to be a hit because every Sunday she is now bombarded with people stopping by JESUS CLASS asking, “How can I help?” Being a church that is stored inside a trailer during the week, Miss Jac packs up at least 8 rollers, and 4 huge bins each Sunday. And, now, people are strolling through JESUS CLASS asking, “What can I bring to the curb for you?”

GET YOUR SCORECARDS READY. Zero means you are a very poor table waiter.  Five means you are an average table waiter. Six to ten means you’re going to get a 20% tip someday!

·         How well do I serve?

·         How well do I serve others?

·         How well do I serve my spouse?

·         How well do I serve my children?

·         How well do I serve my co-workers?

·         How well do I serve my church?

Seed you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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.