Seed Of Faith

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 4-5-19

Seed of Faith – BE DEVOTED & HONOR ONE ANOTHER  By Pastor Dave  

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”  Romans 12:9-13

Dear Saintly Seed-Sowers and Faithful Friends:

It is with great joy in my heart that I sit down to write this week’s Seed of faith.  We have begun a new series at The Seed Christian Fellowship!  We are diving deep into the love and grace of God as we look at some of the wonderful and powerful “ONE ANOTHER” statements found in the Bible! I think it’s a great Lenten series: for us to focus on the words of Christ and the words of Paul.  Learning all of the “ONE ANOTHER” statements will certainly help us grow in our faith and love.

Last week, we looked at what it means to “GREET ONE ANOTHER.”  It is my hope and prayer that you took the “so what” challenge and greeted someone this past week.  Throughout my years of ministry, I’ve found that when you ask someone, “How are you?” their response is usually pretty limited. “Fine.”  “Good.” “Great.” But if you ask, “How’s your day going today?” You can get more of a conversation going. I’ve found that this single question has led into many opportunities for ministry. I’ve had people share their heart because they’re going through some hard things. It’s a good question to remember as you start each day and go out into the world. “How’s your day going so far?”

Today we turn our attention to Romans 12:9-21.  I printed the opening lines above for you to reflect on.  I hope you grab your own Bible (if you don’t have a Bible, I will send you one — just email me) and read Romans 12:9-21.

When I was in seminary, my best friend PJ hired me to learn the construction trade.  I went to seminary Monday through Thursday and worked for PJ on the weekends and during the summer.  I learned how to build homes and learned all kinds of construction work during those three years. I remember one time, right after I started working for PJ, my co-worker John, who is PJ”s brother,  and I were rough-framing this home out in the country.  We worked all morning framing in a two-story chimney chase. You know what a chimney chase is, don’t you?  It is the framing for the chimney so when the brick layers come in, they have a frame to work with in order to finish the chimney/fireplace. John and I worked all morning framing in this chimney chase; two stories high. PJ drove up in his pickup truck and pulled up beside the chimney chase.  He got out of his truck, looked at us and walked over to the chimney chase.  He stood there looking at the chimney chase.  To be honest with you — I was pretty proud of our work.  He then told us that the chimney chase was off by half an inch.  I stood there and started joking with him and told him there was no way we were off.. He told me that we were off by at least a half an inch.  I told him I would bet him a lunch.  He got out his plumb line and climbed the ladder and dropped the plumb line. Sure enough, we were off a half an inch.  I lost the bet and owed PJ a lunch.  Then PJ said, “Tear it down and start over.”  PJ told me that you must sincere and honest with your work if your name is going to be on it. Do you know that the word “sincere” means “to be without hypocrisy”?   

I thought of Paul in this verse. Paul is telling us that our love must be sincere, without hypocrisy or play-acting. What Paul is saying is that our love must not be putting on a fake face and playacting.  Our love must be sincere.  I thought of all of the plans for building a house.  When you build a house, you need to make sure that the foundation is straight and solid; otherwise, everything that I build on top of that foundation will be out of line. “Tear it down and reframe it, Dave, you’re off by half an inch.” I certainly don’t ever want to hear those words from Christ. I want my love to be sincere. I want to build a solid foundation on the solid rock of Christ.

When I first became a Christian in 1981, I started going to church faithfully. Church was hard work for me.  I didn’t grow up being a Christian, even though my grandmother loved to take us four boys to church. (By the way, church was right next door to her house!)  Growing up I had built  a lot of walls around my life.  I don’t know if you have ever done that?  When I was 12, I made a decision that I was not going to let anyone hurt me again. I didn’t let anyone really love me and, to be honest with you, I had all of that love and hate stuff mixed up. I loved doing the wrong things and I often hated doing what was good. I buried the pain of my brother’s death with alcohol. I drank excessively and often. I had Paul’s teaching backwards.  Have you ever done that?   Growing up, if I was clinging onto anything, I was clinging to me, myself and I.  That is a real “unholy trinity.”  There was no way I could be devoted to love one another if all I did was love myself. I was married with three small children before I realized that there was a different Trinity.

The Greek word Paul uses for “HONOR” is actually spelled “time” in Greek.  Isn’t that fascinating?  The truth is that if we really want to “honor one another” we will need to make time for others.  Paul said, “Honor one another above yourself.”   For a young man who grew up loving himself, learning to reverse that cycle was difficult for me. Like I said, I was married with 3 small children. My wife is a pretty smart woman, and she signed us up for a marriage retreat. I learned through that Marriage Encounter weekend that love is spelled “TIME.” When we honor one another, it’s going to take TIME. When you honor your spouse, plan on spending some TIME. When you honor your children, or family, plan on spending TIME. From that 1981 marriage retreat, I’ve never forgotten that LOVE is spelled TIME. 

Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, that we should try and outdo one another in showing love. The basic concept being taught is that if we want to keep the fires of love burning, we should learn how to love and honor one another. Wow!  That sounds just like these words from Romans.

My lifelong friend and former boss, PJ,had some pretty funny sayings.  He used to say, “Dave, measure twice, cut once.”  I think he was trying to teach me to slow down and take the time to make sure that I was right before I cut the wood. I think this is what our good friend, Paul, is teaching us. “Honor one another.” Make the time you need to honor one another.”  That statement can hit us pretty hard because so often in our individualistic society we have a hard time putting others above ourselves.  What I’ve found is that honoring one another is going to cost me time. It’s going to cost me “ME” time. I’m going to have to give up something in order to be able to spend the time it takes to honor one another.  I have an honest confession. I love to work. I really do. I love to read my commentaries, I love to journal on what I’m reading, and I love to do ministry. And every once in a while, I can get really caught up in all of those “me” things. God has blessed me with a wonderful wife and family. It doesn’t cost me anything except TIME to say to my wife, “Let’s go for a walk” or “let’s have a cup of coffee out by the fireplace.” Like I said, learning that love is spelled time really framed a new foundation in my life. I’ve found it to be a solid foundation.

The Apostle Paul said it. “Be devoted to one another in love!  Honor one another above yourself!  Live in harmony with one another.” 

I remember one time working construction when we had dug a hole for a swimming pool in the bottom of a hotel. PJ came along and said, “Our measurements are off by a foot. We have to dig the entire floor of the swimming pool out by a foot.” I found myself saying, “Why don’t we just raise the roof a foot?” PJ turned around and looked at me and I’ll never forget what he said.  “Dave, it’s going to take us 6 months to frame and build this hotel. And then for the next 60 years, kids are going to swim in that pool you’re digging. Our measurements are off by a foot. It’s not your fault. But you are going to make it right because it’s the right thing to do.”  My co-worker, Roger and I spent the rest of the day digging another 12 inches, another foot, out of the floor of the swimming pool by hand. By now, the frame work around the swimming pool had been finished and there was no way we could get a bobcat in to dig it out. Even during seminary, God kept hammering away at me: “LOVE IS SPELLED TIME.” With every shovel full of dirt, I was learning to “honor one another.” It took us one full day but we got that swimming pool ready. Even all these years later, kids and families are swimming away at that hotel. Our work was done correctly. I can look back now and know that I got it right.

So What?
I was 26 when I rededicated my life to Christ. I had a wife and three small children. I had a whole lot of learning and loving to do in order to be able to tear down the walls that I had built around my heart. Letting down our walls does, indeed, open us to many kinds of fear but it also opens us up to many kinds of love. On that same marriage weekend, I told my wife for the first time in seven years that I needed her. I had written her a love letter and I said those three, magic words. “I NEED YOU.” I will never forget my wife’s reaction. She cried. She really cried.  She didn’t just cry, she wailed. “You need me?” Let me tell you, the walls I had built that had insured my own safety from hurt came crashing down that day. I had learned Romans 12.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”  Romans 12:9-13 

Seed you Sunday!

Love really is spelled TIME.
HONOR ONE ANOTHER.
GREET ONE ANOTHER.

These ONE ANOTHER statements from the word are challenging.

Is your love sincere? Do you hate what is evil? Do you cling to what is good? Are you devoted to one another? Do you honor others above your holy trinity of ME, MYSELF and I?

Your “So What?” challenge is for you to spend some time figuring out what this HONOR ONE ANOTHER means to you in your life. I have some hard questions for you:

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.

Seed of Faith – GREET ONE ANOTHER By Pastor Dave  

“Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” I Peter 5:14

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:

Today we begin a new series based on the “One Another” passages found in the New Testament.  As I have been praying for you, and for so many others who are associated with The Seed, the Lord has put it on my heart for us to look at the passages that call us to become a community of believers.  One of the questions I wrestle with is, “How do we have community when there is so much dis-unity?” I believe that with the advancement of all of our electronic devices, our busyness of life, our divisive political world, our racial struggles, economic trials and religious differences, we have lost a sense of connection with “One Another.” This series is just part of the answer to more community in the church and in the world.

The New Testament writers wrestled with some of the same things we struggle with today.  In fact, many of the letters written in the New Testament were written to churches that were struggling with some of the exact things we struggle with. Over the next seven weeks, we will dive into the deep end of the pool, and learn what the early church struggled with and how they were encouraged to:

Greet One Another — Romans 16:1-16
Honor and be Devoted to One Another — Romans 12:9-21
Serve One Another — Galatians 5:13 & Ephesians 5:13-33
Live in Harmony with One Another — I Peter 1:3-17
Submit to One Another — Galatains 5:13

Teach, Admonish and Accept One Another — Romans 15:1-7; Colossians 3:12-17
Bear with One Another – Ephesians 4:1-10
Love One Another — John 13:1-34

An early “So what?” question is, “Have you ever thought about how we greet one another, honor one another, are devoted to one another, submit and serve one another, live in harmony with one another, teach, admonish, and accept one another, bear with one another and love one another?”
How good are we at all of these ONE ANOTHERS? How good are YOU?

I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read theses inspiring passages — Romans 16:1-16; I Peter 5:14; I Corinthians 16:19-24; II Corinthians 13:12-14; I Thessalonians 5:26-28.  Here we are encouraged to GREET ONE ANOTHER!

The Greek word for “greet” is “aspazomi” and in this context it is an imperative verb which is a command.  “Aspazomi” means “welcome kindly, receive one another, embrace,  be happy about,  bid welcome,  salute or  greet.”  I wonder what our world would be like if we really greeted one other. What would happen if we welcomed one another kindly? If we received one another with love? What would happen if we showed others just how happy we are to see them? That’s what our New Testament writers are talking about: Greet each other with God’s love. Salute one another—give one another a friendly gesture of respect, homage, and recognition. In today’s culture, it doesn’t have to be a hug or a holy kiss, but a hearty smile, a friendly fist pump, or high five can simply say, “I’m happy to see you today!”

In his beautiful TED talk, John Sutherland, an officer in London’s police department, explains a principle in Forensic Science called Locard’s Exchange Principle. Developed by Dr. Edmond Locard, known as the Sherlock Holmes of France, this principle has a simple premise: every contact leaves a trace. In other words, every criminal leaves a trace behind him. One forensic expert put it this way:  Wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will serve as a silent witness against him. Not only his fingerprints or his footprints, but his hair, the fibers from his clothes, the glass he breaks … the paint he scratches, the blood … he deposits or collects … This is evidence that does not forget.  Sutherland explains how this principle applies not just to forensic science but to all human relationships:  Every time two people come into contact with one another, an exchange takes place. Whether between lifelong friends or passing strangers, we encourage, we ignore, we hold out a hand, or we withdraw it. We walk towards or we walk away. We bless or we curse… And every single contact leaves a trace. The way that we treat and regard one another matters. It really matters.[i]

The other day Jac and I went out to eat out a local restaurant.  As we went to find a seat, Jac noticed an older gentleman with a Veteran’s cap. He was in a wheelchair. She stopped and said, “Thank you for your service.” Without blinking, the older veteran saluted her from his wheelchair. “My pleasure, mam. Serving was my pleasure.”

SO WHAT?
My “so what” this week is for us to step out of our comfort zone. Greet one another—and not just here but at home, at work, at the grocery store, movies, wherever you go. I’m not recommending that you go hug everyone out there but…you can greet one another with a smile.  Just smile at someone and see what happens.  Take out your headphones and greet the person next to you at the grocery store. Call your checkout person, waitress or waiter by name.   Maybe even bless someone with a wave and a “have a great day!”

I’ve been doing ordained ministry for over 20 years. It’s a full-time job. Here’s the one thing that I’ve found that opens the door to a person’s day. “How’s your day going?” I ask it everywhere I go: the post office, the grocery clerk, the server at the restaurant, our trash truck drivers.  I encourage you to ask that question, too, as you go about your way until we meet again. I don’t ask, “How are you?” because that almost always results in a one-word answer of  “Fine” but when you ask someone, “How’s your day going?” You know what? They tell you. When they tell me they are having a bad day or a hard day, I tell them, “I’ll pray for you.”

Okay, repeat after me: Greet one another. (Greet one another.) How’s your day going? (How’s your day going?)

This is your assignment for the week. Be intentional. When you go out to the grocery, smile and greet someone. When you go to work, stop and ask your co-workers, “How’s your day going?” You can also ask how their week is going. Ask your family members, “Hey, I’ve been thinking of you today, how’s your day going so far?”  A text to your busy spouse just might make you a hero or shero. Every day try to greet someone–“Aspazomi”… “welcome kindly, receive one another, embrace,  be happy about,  bid welcome,  salute or  greet.”  “Hey, I’m happy to see you!”

When Jac and I were raising our family, we tried to have dinner at 6. In between all of the sports and school events–we tried to sit down as a family as often as we could. We asked the kids to pick one of these three words:  BAD. SAD. GLAD. They could share on any one of these words. Pretty soon they were sharing on all three. (This is how we started to find out if our son was getting a grade notice report in the coming mail! He was famous for them. “Mom, Dad, I try to see how low I can get my grades and then I see how high they can go!” He never missed the B honor roll and it was kind of nice to know that his grade report was on its way. We will never forget Brian and his friends all sitting at the dining room table working on their Math, English and Science! Jac would feed them and I would try to help. Great memories.)

I may not tell you often enough, but I love being called to be your pastor. With every handshake, or abrazo — holy hug or handshake, you have greeted me (welcomed me, received me, embraced me, saluted me and have been happy to see me) with God’s great love.  May we as a church community always greet one another with God’s great love!

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 3/23/19

Seed of Faith – TRANSFIGURATION TO TRANSFORMATION   By Pastor Dave  

“About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” Luke 9:28-29

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers:

SPRING HAS SPRUNG! Happy Spring to all! We’ve all endured a long winter; it’s great to have the HOPE that Spring brings.

Over the past few weeks, we have been looking at a few, different “P” words: PRESENCE – PROMISES- POWER –  & POSSIBILITIES. Today we will look at our final “P” word:  PURPOSE!  I pray for you all each day. I always welcome any prayer concern. One of my daily prayers is that you will learn what your purpose is on this earth. I hope this SEED OF FAITH helps with that.

It’s time for an early “so what?”   How would our lives change if we lived in The Presence, The Promises, The Power, and The Possibilities of our amazing God? This is the question that will lead us to find our PURPOSE.
1.  “What is God’s purpose for my life?”
2.  “What is my purpose here on earth?”
3.  “Does my purpose change with the seasons of my life?”   

Seriously, stop for a moment and be quiet. Do you know your purpose for your life? Is your purpose the same as it’s always been or has it changed with the seasons of your life? Our Scripture for today is Luke 9:28-36. In this passage we read about the Transfiguration of Christ.  Another question to ask: How is my life transformed by the transfiguration?  (Have you ever noticed how many questions are asked in the Bible? Have you ever noticed how many questions Jesus is asked? Have you ever noticed how many questions Jesus asks? Get your notebook out because it’s a lot!)

Today we are in the Gospel of Luke with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Think about this for a moment. Put yourself into this story. Peter, John, James and Jesus have gone to the mountain to pray.  Suddenly there are two more people with them: Moses, who has experience with God on a mountaintop, and Elijah, who also has some mountaintop experience. The three of these men are standing together, discussing Jesus’ departure. I love to put myself into the stories of the Bible. What were these three saying?  Maybe Moses and Elijah were preparing Jesus for the imminent, upcoming reality check of the valley below.  Perhaps Moses was reminding Jesus of what happened to him during his mountaintop experiences. Maybe he was saying, “All I know is that I had stone tablets from God and I returned to my people worship and a golden cow!”  Maybe Elijah was reminding Jesus of how God came through in a powerful way for him up on Mt. Carmel. “God slayed all those false prophets, Jesus, and then Jezebel threatened to kill me.” What do you think these three holy men were discussing? I often wonder.  Maybe they were preparing Jesus for the final days in Jerusalem: a betrayal, an arrest, a trial, a crucifixion, a resurrection.

In our story, we are told that as soon as Jesus, Peter, James and John traveled down the mountain, a large crowd descended upon them.  We are presented with the story of the father and his demon-possessed son. Last week, we looked at this passage and we learned that all things are possible for those who believe.

Jesus has just experienced a powerful, mountain-top experience (have you been there?) only to come crashing back into the valley of real life.  I think our Gospel-writing friend, Dr. Luke, is trying to tell us a secret through his story:  GET READY TO GET SMASHED, CRASHED, and BASHED after your exhilarating GOD MOMENT on the MOUNTAIN TOP!

I have been on many spiritual retreats.  I have had powerful God moments of mountain highs. It seems they all have one thing in common: I usually come crashing back down into the valley of the reality. It’s plenty of fun to spend time on the mountaintop. We have members who allow my wife and I to spend time in their mountain cabin any time we want. It’s exhilarating to spend a week up in the fresh air.  It’s amazing to see the 100′ tall pine trees sway in the breeze. Each time we go, I marvel at God’s creation and I am refueled and refilled with all of the “P’s” we’ve been studying: PRESENCE – PROMISES- POWER –  & POSSIBILITIES.  I come down from our weekends, and our spiritual retreats, and I am reminded over and over: “You may have been changed this weekend, Dave, but remember:  the world has not.”  Toby Mac sent out a post this week that read,  “The God on the mountain is still the God in the valley.”  

In our reading from Luke, we hear that Jesus’ face was changed, his clothes became white like lightning. Luke says Jesus was transformed. Mark and Matthew use a different verb to describe the scene.  They both wrote that Jesus was transfigured right before Peter, James and John.  The Greek word they used for transfigured” or “changed” is “metamorphoo.”  This is the exact word from where we get the word “metamorphosis.”  What our Gospel writers are trying to convey to us is that as Jesus was praying on that mountaintop his face was changed, transfigured and transformed right in front of Peter, James and John’s very eyes. Metamorphoo. Just like when the caterpillar crawls into the crysalis and at some point–a total reconfiguration of that caterpillar is configured into a butterfly? Yes.  Exactly like that. Jesus was metamorphoo-ed. Transfigured.

So What?
In 2000 I met for lunch with a man I had spent a weekend with through Marriage Encounter. My wife and I were on team as a presenting clergy couple. The man and his wife were blessed by the marriage encounter experience. After the weekend, he invited me to lunch because he had a question he wanted to ask me. I arrived late from a memorial service.  When we settled in to our lunch, the man asked me the question he had been pondering: What is it that brings me my greatest joy in ministry?  I looked at him and, without missing a beat, I told him that my greatest joy is seeing someone’s life transformed by the love of Christ. The man smiled at me and said that he has met with many pastors and has asked them the same question. Why did they go into full-time ministry?  He told me he had pastors who just looked at him and say, “I don’t know. I haven’t ever stopped to think what give me my greatest joy.”  Some of the pastors told him that studying, reading, preaching, and teaching gave them their greatest joy.  My friend responded that I was the only pastor who had answered so quickly and so confidently about my passion and joy.  (My friend is now almost 85. He’s been asking questions about life for many years. My friend is also an orthopedic surgeon.)  I still to this day will give you the same answer: Transformation!

TRANSFORMATION! I have news for you. Jesus isn’t the only person who was changed that day on the mountain top. I’m pretty sure Peter, James and John were METAMORPHOOED, too. I’m pretty sure that their mountaintop experience with Jesus is what changed them and gave them the courage to face the battles in the valley below.  I’m also sure that our own personal encounters with God have METAMORPHOOED us, too.

Our purpose in life, no matter what season we are in, is for us to allow the love and grace of Jesus Christ to transform us.

Transformation. Like the caterpillar crawling into the chrysalis…there is that moment that no one can pinpoint to…when that caterpillar is TRANSFORMED…metamorphooed….transfigured…into a brand new creation…a butterfly.  This is our purpose: to let the grace of Christ change us into the person of God that we’ve been called to become.

The 5 P’s:
Presence —
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
Promises — “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4
Power — “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength ….” Ephesians 1:18-19
Possibilities — “Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered.  “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”   “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”  Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:22-24
Purpose — “As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, (transfigured -transformed) and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” Luke 9:29, 35

I leave you today with a few questions that only you can answer. What is it that gives your life purpose? Is it time for you to go away to a mountaintop? (Your mountaintops can be anywhere–on a retreat, at the beach, at church.) Maybe it’s just time for you to take a day and be alone with God. Drive out to that park, or church, or lake. Bring your bible. Pray. What is it that I call my life’s purpose? What do these 5 “P’s” have to do with my life? Do I feel God’s presence within me? Do I trust in God’s promises? Do I acknowledge that God has all the power I need for my life? Am I open to all of the possibilities God has for me? Is my purpose changing? Am I entering a new season?

Living the Christian life is the most exciting thing I know.  Every day I pray for you. I pray that God, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, and with the reality of the resurrected Christ, will guide you to live the most purposeful life you dream of.

Seed you Sunday!
God loves you with an everlasting love and outrageous grace 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 4-5-19

Seed of Faith – BE DEVOTED & HONOR ONE ANOTHER  By Pastor Dave  

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”  Romans 12:9-13

Dear Saintly Seed-Sowers and Faithful Friends:

It is with great joy in my heart that I sit down to write this week’s Seed of faith.  We have begun a new series at The Seed Christian Fellowship!  We are diving deep into the love and grace of God as we look at some of the wonderful and powerful “ONE ANOTHER” statements found in the Bible! I think it’s a great Lenten series: for us to focus on the words of Christ and the words of Paul.  Learning all of the “ONE ANOTHER” statements will certainly help us grow in our faith and love.

Last week, we looked at what it means to “GREET ONE ANOTHER.”  It is my hope and prayer that you took the “so what” challenge and greeted someone this past week.  Throughout my years of ministry, I’ve found that when you ask someone, “How are you?” their response is usually pretty limited. “Fine.”  “Good.” “Great.” But if you ask, “How’s your day going today?” You can get more of a conversation going. I’ve found that this single question has led into many opportunities for ministry. I’ve had people share their heart because they’re going through some hard things. It’s a good question to remember as you start each day and go out into the world. “How’s your day going so far?”

Today we turn our attention to Romans 12:9-21.  I printed the opening lines above for you to reflect on.  I hope you grab your own Bible (if you don’t have a Bible, I will send you one — just email me) and read Romans 12:9-21.

When I was in seminary, my best friend PJ hired me to learn the construction trade.  I went to seminary Monday through Thursday and worked for PJ on the weekends and during the summer.  I learned how to build homes and learned all kinds of construction work during those three years. I remember one time, right after I started working for PJ, my co-worker John, who is PJ”s brother,  and I were rough-framing this home out in the country.  We worked all morning framing in a two-story chimney chase. You know what a chimney chase is, don’t you?  It is the framing for the chimney so when the brick layers come in, they have a frame to work with in order to finish the chimney/fireplace. John and I worked all morning framing in this chimney chase; two stories high. PJ drove up in his pickup truck and pulled up beside the chimney chase.  He got out of his truck, looked at us and walked over to the chimney chase.  He stood there looking at the chimney chase.  To be honest with you — I was pretty proud of our work.  He then told us that the chimney chase was off by half an inch.  I stood there and started joking with him and told him there was no way we were off.. He told me that we were off by at least a half an inch.  I told him I would bet him a lunch.  He got out his plumb line and climbed the ladder and dropped the plumb line. Sure enough, we were off a half an inch.  I lost the bet and owed PJ a lunch.  Then PJ said, “Tear it down and start over.”  PJ told me that you must sincere and honest with your work if your name is going to be on it. Do you know that the word “sincere” means “to be without hypocrisy”?   

I thought of Paul in this verse. Paul is telling us that our love must be sincere, without hypocrisy or play-acting. What Paul is saying is that our love must not be putting on a fake face and playacting.  Our love must be sincere.  I thought of all of the plans for building a house.  When you build a house, you need to make sure that the foundation is straight and solid; otherwise, everything that I build on top of that foundation will be out of line. “Tear it down and reframe it, Dave, you’re off by half an inch.” I certainly don’t ever want to hear those words from Christ. I want my love to be sincere. I want to build a solid foundation on the solid rock of Christ.

When I first became a Christian in 1981, I started going to church faithfully. Church was hard work for me.  I didn’t grow up being a Christian, even though my grandmother loved to take us four boys to church. (By the way, church was right next door to her house!)  Growing up I had built  a lot of walls around my life.  I don’t know if you have ever done that?  When I was 12, I made a decision that I was not going to let anyone hurt me again. I didn’t let anyone really love me and, to be honest with you, I had all of that love and hate stuff mixed up. I loved doing the wrong things and I often hated doing what was good. I buried the pain of my brother’s death with alcohol. I drank excessively and often. I had Paul’s teaching backwards.  Have you ever done that?   Growing up, if I was clinging onto anything, I was clinging to me, myself and I.  That is a real “unholy trinity.”  There was no way I could be devoted to love one another if all I did was love myself. I was married with three small children before I realized that there was a different Trinity.

The Greek word Paul uses for “HONOR” is actually spelled “time” in Greek.  Isn’t that fascinating?  The truth is that if we really want to “honor one another” we will need to make time for others.  Paul said, “Honor one another above yourself.”   For a young man who grew up loving himself, learning to reverse that cycle was difficult for me. Like I said, I was married with 3 small children. My wife is a pretty smart woman, and she signed us up for a marriage retreat. I learned through that Marriage Encounter weekend that love is spelled “TIME.” When we honor one another, it’s going to take TIME. When you honor your spouse, plan on spending some TIME. When you honor your children, or family, plan on spending TIME. From that 1981 marriage retreat, I’ve never forgotten that LOVE is spelled TIME. 

Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, that we should try and outdo one another in showing love. The basic concept being taught is that if we want to keep the fires of love burning, we should learn how to love and honor one another. Wow!  That sounds just like these words from Romans.

My lifelong friend and former boss, PJ,had some pretty funny sayings.  He used to say, “Dave, measure twice, cut once.”  I think he was trying to teach me to slow down and take the time to make sure that I was right before I cut the wood. I think this is what our good friend, Paul, is teaching us. “Honor one another.” Make the time you need to honor one another.”  That statement can hit us pretty hard because so often in our individualistic society we have a hard time putting others above ourselves.  What I’ve found is that honoring one another is going to cost me time. It’s going to cost me “ME” time. I’m going to have to give up something in order to be able to spend the time it takes to honor one another.  I have an honest confession. I love to work. I really do. I love to read my commentaries, I love to journal on what I’m reading, and I love to do ministry. And every once in a while, I can get really caught up in all of those “me” things. God has blessed me with a wonderful wife and family. It doesn’t cost me anything except TIME to say to my wife, “Let’s go for a walk” or “let’s have a cup of coffee out by the fireplace.” Like I said, learning that love is spelled time really framed a new foundation in my life. I’ve found it to be a solid foundation.

The Apostle Paul said it. “Be devoted to one another in love!  Honor one another above yourself!  Live in harmony with one another.” 

I remember one time working construction when we had dug a hole for a swimming pool in the bottom of a hotel. PJ came along and said, “Our measurements are off by a foot. We have to dig the entire floor of the swimming pool out by a foot.” I found myself saying, “Why don’t we just raise the roof a foot?” PJ turned around and looked at me and I’ll never forget what he said.  “Dave, it’s going to take us 6 months to frame and build this hotel. And then for the next 60 years, kids are going to swim in that pool you’re digging. Our measurements are off by a foot. It’s not your fault. But you are going to make it right because it’s the right thing to do.”  My co-worker, Roger and I spent the rest of the day digging another 12 inches, another foot, out of the floor of the swimming pool by hand. By now, the frame work around the swimming pool had been finished and there was no way we could get a bobcat in to dig it out. Even during seminary, God kept hammering away at me: “LOVE IS SPELLED TIME.” With every shovel full of dirt, I was learning to “honor one another.” It took us one full day but we got that swimming pool ready. Even all these years later, kids and families are swimming away at that hotel. Our work was done correctly. I can look back now and know that I got it right.

So What?
I was 26 when I rededicated my life to Christ. I had a wife and three small children. I had a whole lot of learning and loving to do in order to be able to tear down the walls that I had built around my heart. Letting down our walls does, indeed, open us to many kinds of fear but it also opens us up to many kinds of love. On that same marriage weekend, I told my wife for the first time in seven years that I needed her. I had written her a love letter and I said those three, magic words. “I NEED YOU.” I will never forget my wife’s reaction. She cried. She really cried.  She didn’t just cry, she wailed. “You need me?” Let me tell you, the walls I had built that had insured my own safety from hurt came crashing down that day. I had learned Romans 12.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”  Romans 12:9-13 

Seed you Sunday!

Love really is spelled TIME.
HONOR ONE ANOTHER.
GREET ONE ANOTHER.

These ONE ANOTHER statements from the word are challenging.

Is your love sincere? Do you hate what is evil? Do you cling to what is good? Are you devoted to one another? Do you honor others above your holy trinity of ME, MYSELF and I?

Your “So What?” challenge is for you to spend some time figuring out what this HONOR ONE ANOTHER means to you in your life. I have some hard questions for you:

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.

Seed of Faith – GREET ONE ANOTHER By Pastor Dave  

“Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” I Peter 5:14

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:

Today we begin a new series based on the “One Another” passages found in the New Testament.  As I have been praying for you, and for so many others who are associated with The Seed, the Lord has put it on my heart for us to look at the passages that call us to become a community of believers.  One of the questions I wrestle with is, “How do we have community when there is so much dis-unity?” I believe that with the advancement of all of our electronic devices, our busyness of life, our divisive political world, our racial struggles, economic trials and religious differences, we have lost a sense of connection with “One Another.” This series is just part of the answer to more community in the church and in the world.

The New Testament writers wrestled with some of the same things we struggle with today.  In fact, many of the letters written in the New Testament were written to churches that were struggling with some of the exact things we struggle with. Over the next seven weeks, we will dive into the deep end of the pool, and learn what the early church struggled with and how they were encouraged to:

Greet One Another — Romans 16:1-16
Honor and be Devoted to One Another — Romans 12:9-21
Serve One Another — Galatians 5:13 & Ephesians 5:13-33
Live in Harmony with One Another — I Peter 1:3-17
Submit to One Another — Galatains 5:13

Teach, Admonish and Accept One Another — Romans 15:1-7; Colossians 3:12-17
Bear with One Another – Ephesians 4:1-10
Love One Another — John 13:1-34

An early “So what?” question is, “Have you ever thought about how we greet one another, honor one another, are devoted to one another, submit and serve one another, live in harmony with one another, teach, admonish, and accept one another, bear with one another and love one another?”
How good are we at all of these ONE ANOTHERS? How good are YOU?

I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read theses inspiring passages — Romans 16:1-16; I Peter 5:14; I Corinthians 16:19-24; II Corinthians 13:12-14; I Thessalonians 5:26-28.  Here we are encouraged to GREET ONE ANOTHER!

The Greek word for “greet” is “aspazomi” and in this context it is an imperative verb which is a command.  “Aspazomi” means “welcome kindly, receive one another, embrace,  be happy about,  bid welcome,  salute or  greet.”  I wonder what our world would be like if we really greeted one other. What would happen if we welcomed one another kindly? If we received one another with love? What would happen if we showed others just how happy we are to see them? That’s what our New Testament writers are talking about: Greet each other with God’s love. Salute one another—give one another a friendly gesture of respect, homage, and recognition. In today’s culture, it doesn’t have to be a hug or a holy kiss, but a hearty smile, a friendly fist pump, or high five can simply say, “I’m happy to see you today!”

In his beautiful TED talk, John Sutherland, an officer in London’s police department, explains a principle in Forensic Science called Locard’s Exchange Principle. Developed by Dr. Edmond Locard, known as the Sherlock Holmes of France, this principle has a simple premise: every contact leaves a trace. In other words, every criminal leaves a trace behind him. One forensic expert put it this way:  Wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will serve as a silent witness against him. Not only his fingerprints or his footprints, but his hair, the fibers from his clothes, the glass he breaks … the paint he scratches, the blood … he deposits or collects … This is evidence that does not forget.  Sutherland explains how this principle applies not just to forensic science but to all human relationships:  Every time two people come into contact with one another, an exchange takes place. Whether between lifelong friends or passing strangers, we encourage, we ignore, we hold out a hand, or we withdraw it. We walk towards or we walk away. We bless or we curse… And every single contact leaves a trace. The way that we treat and regard one another matters. It really matters.[i]

The other day Jac and I went out to eat out a local restaurant.  As we went to find a seat, Jac noticed an older gentleman with a Veteran’s cap. He was in a wheelchair. She stopped and said, “Thank you for your service.” Without blinking, the older veteran saluted her from his wheelchair. “My pleasure, mam. Serving was my pleasure.”

SO WHAT?
My “so what” this week is for us to step out of our comfort zone. Greet one another—and not just here but at home, at work, at the grocery store, movies, wherever you go. I’m not recommending that you go hug everyone out there but…you can greet one another with a smile.  Just smile at someone and see what happens.  Take out your headphones and greet the person next to you at the grocery store. Call your checkout person, waitress or waiter by name.   Maybe even bless someone with a wave and a “have a great day!”

I’ve been doing ordained ministry for over 20 years. It’s a full-time job. Here’s the one thing that I’ve found that opens the door to a person’s day. “How’s your day going?” I ask it everywhere I go: the post office, the grocery clerk, the server at the restaurant, our trash truck drivers.  I encourage you to ask that question, too, as you go about your way until we meet again. I don’t ask, “How are you?” because that almost always results in a one-word answer of  “Fine” but when you ask someone, “How’s your day going?” You know what? They tell you. When they tell me they are having a bad day or a hard day, I tell them, “I’ll pray for you.”

Okay, repeat after me: Greet one another. (Greet one another.) How’s your day going? (How’s your day going?)

This is your assignment for the week. Be intentional. When you go out to the grocery, smile and greet someone. When you go to work, stop and ask your co-workers, “How’s your day going?” You can also ask how their week is going. Ask your family members, “Hey, I’ve been thinking of you today, how’s your day going so far?”  A text to your busy spouse just might make you a hero or shero. Every day try to greet someone–“Aspazomi”… “welcome kindly, receive one another, embrace,  be happy about,  bid welcome,  salute or  greet.”  “Hey, I’m happy to see you!”

When Jac and I were raising our family, we tried to have dinner at 6. In between all of the sports and school events–we tried to sit down as a family as often as we could. We asked the kids to pick one of these three words:  BAD. SAD. GLAD. They could share on any one of these words. Pretty soon they were sharing on all three. (This is how we started to find out if our son was getting a grade notice report in the coming mail! He was famous for them. “Mom, Dad, I try to see how low I can get my grades and then I see how high they can go!” He never missed the B honor roll and it was kind of nice to know that his grade report was on its way. We will never forget Brian and his friends all sitting at the dining room table working on their Math, English and Science! Jac would feed them and I would try to help. Great memories.)

I may not tell you often enough, but I love being called to be your pastor. With every handshake, or abrazo — holy hug or handshake, you have greeted me (welcomed me, received me, embraced me, saluted me and have been happy to see me) with God’s great love.  May we as a church community always greet one another with God’s great love!

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 3/23/19

Seed of Faith – TRANSFIGURATION TO TRANSFORMATION   By Pastor Dave  

“About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” Luke 9:28-29

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers:

SPRING HAS SPRUNG! Happy Spring to all! We’ve all endured a long winter; it’s great to have the HOPE that Spring brings.

Over the past few weeks, we have been looking at a few, different “P” words: PRESENCE – PROMISES- POWER –  & POSSIBILITIES. Today we will look at our final “P” word:  PURPOSE!  I pray for you all each day. I always welcome any prayer concern. One of my daily prayers is that you will learn what your purpose is on this earth. I hope this SEED OF FAITH helps with that.

It’s time for an early “so what?”   How would our lives change if we lived in The Presence, The Promises, The Power, and The Possibilities of our amazing God? This is the question that will lead us to find our PURPOSE.
1.  “What is God’s purpose for my life?”
2.  “What is my purpose here on earth?”
3.  “Does my purpose change with the seasons of my life?”   

Seriously, stop for a moment and be quiet. Do you know your purpose for your life? Is your purpose the same as it’s always been or has it changed with the seasons of your life? Our Scripture for today is Luke 9:28-36. In this passage we read about the Transfiguration of Christ.  Another question to ask: How is my life transformed by the transfiguration?  (Have you ever noticed how many questions are asked in the Bible? Have you ever noticed how many questions Jesus is asked? Have you ever noticed how many questions Jesus asks? Get your notebook out because it’s a lot!)

Today we are in the Gospel of Luke with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Think about this for a moment. Put yourself into this story. Peter, John, James and Jesus have gone to the mountain to pray.  Suddenly there are two more people with them: Moses, who has experience with God on a mountaintop, and Elijah, who also has some mountaintop experience. The three of these men are standing together, discussing Jesus’ departure. I love to put myself into the stories of the Bible. What were these three saying?  Maybe Moses and Elijah were preparing Jesus for the imminent, upcoming reality check of the valley below.  Perhaps Moses was reminding Jesus of what happened to him during his mountaintop experiences. Maybe he was saying, “All I know is that I had stone tablets from God and I returned to my people worship and a golden cow!”  Maybe Elijah was reminding Jesus of how God came through in a powerful way for him up on Mt. Carmel. “God slayed all those false prophets, Jesus, and then Jezebel threatened to kill me.” What do you think these three holy men were discussing? I often wonder.  Maybe they were preparing Jesus for the final days in Jerusalem: a betrayal, an arrest, a trial, a crucifixion, a resurrection.

In our story, we are told that as soon as Jesus, Peter, James and John traveled down the mountain, a large crowd descended upon them.  We are presented with the story of the father and his demon-possessed son. Last week, we looked at this passage and we learned that all things are possible for those who believe.

Jesus has just experienced a powerful, mountain-top experience (have you been there?) only to come crashing back into the valley of real life.  I think our Gospel-writing friend, Dr. Luke, is trying to tell us a secret through his story:  GET READY TO GET SMASHED, CRASHED, and BASHED after your exhilarating GOD MOMENT on the MOUNTAIN TOP!

I have been on many spiritual retreats.  I have had powerful God moments of mountain highs. It seems they all have one thing in common: I usually come crashing back down into the valley of the reality. It’s plenty of fun to spend time on the mountaintop. We have members who allow my wife and I to spend time in their mountain cabin any time we want. It’s exhilarating to spend a week up in the fresh air.  It’s amazing to see the 100′ tall pine trees sway in the breeze. Each time we go, I marvel at God’s creation and I am refueled and refilled with all of the “P’s” we’ve been studying: PRESENCE – PROMISES- POWER –  & POSSIBILITIES.  I come down from our weekends, and our spiritual retreats, and I am reminded over and over: “You may have been changed this weekend, Dave, but remember:  the world has not.”  Toby Mac sent out a post this week that read,  “The God on the mountain is still the God in the valley.”  

In our reading from Luke, we hear that Jesus’ face was changed, his clothes became white like lightning. Luke says Jesus was transformed. Mark and Matthew use a different verb to describe the scene.  They both wrote that Jesus was transfigured right before Peter, James and John.  The Greek word they used for transfigured” or “changed” is “metamorphoo.”  This is the exact word from where we get the word “metamorphosis.”  What our Gospel writers are trying to convey to us is that as Jesus was praying on that mountaintop his face was changed, transfigured and transformed right in front of Peter, James and John’s very eyes. Metamorphoo. Just like when the caterpillar crawls into the crysalis and at some point–a total reconfiguration of that caterpillar is configured into a butterfly? Yes.  Exactly like that. Jesus was metamorphoo-ed. Transfigured.

So What?
In 2000 I met for lunch with a man I had spent a weekend with through Marriage Encounter. My wife and I were on team as a presenting clergy couple. The man and his wife were blessed by the marriage encounter experience. After the weekend, he invited me to lunch because he had a question he wanted to ask me. I arrived late from a memorial service.  When we settled in to our lunch, the man asked me the question he had been pondering: What is it that brings me my greatest joy in ministry?  I looked at him and, without missing a beat, I told him that my greatest joy is seeing someone’s life transformed by the love of Christ. The man smiled at me and said that he has met with many pastors and has asked them the same question. Why did they go into full-time ministry?  He told me he had pastors who just looked at him and say, “I don’t know. I haven’t ever stopped to think what give me my greatest joy.”  Some of the pastors told him that studying, reading, preaching, and teaching gave them their greatest joy.  My friend responded that I was the only pastor who had answered so quickly and so confidently about my passion and joy.  (My friend is now almost 85. He’s been asking questions about life for many years. My friend is also an orthopedic surgeon.)  I still to this day will give you the same answer: Transformation!

TRANSFORMATION! I have news for you. Jesus isn’t the only person who was changed that day on the mountain top. I’m pretty sure Peter, James and John were METAMORPHOOED, too. I’m pretty sure that their mountaintop experience with Jesus is what changed them and gave them the courage to face the battles in the valley below.  I’m also sure that our own personal encounters with God have METAMORPHOOED us, too.

Our purpose in life, no matter what season we are in, is for us to allow the love and grace of Jesus Christ to transform us.

Transformation. Like the caterpillar crawling into the chrysalis…there is that moment that no one can pinpoint to…when that caterpillar is TRANSFORMED…metamorphooed….transfigured…into a brand new creation…a butterfly.  This is our purpose: to let the grace of Christ change us into the person of God that we’ve been called to become.

The 5 P’s:
Presence —
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
Promises — “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4
Power — “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength ….” Ephesians 1:18-19
Possibilities — “Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered.  “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”   “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”  Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:22-24
Purpose — “As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, (transfigured -transformed) and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” Luke 9:29, 35

I leave you today with a few questions that only you can answer. What is it that gives your life purpose? Is it time for you to go away to a mountaintop? (Your mountaintops can be anywhere–on a retreat, at the beach, at church.) Maybe it’s just time for you to take a day and be alone with God. Drive out to that park, or church, or lake. Bring your bible. Pray. What is it that I call my life’s purpose? What do these 5 “P’s” have to do with my life? Do I feel God’s presence within me? Do I trust in God’s promises? Do I acknowledge that God has all the power I need for my life? Am I open to all of the possibilities God has for me? Is my purpose changing? Am I entering a new season?

Living the Christian life is the most exciting thing I know.  Every day I pray for you. I pray that God, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, and with the reality of the resurrected Christ, will guide you to live the most purposeful life you dream of.

Seed you Sunday!
God loves you with an everlasting love and outrageous grace 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 4-5-19

Seed of Faith – BE DEVOTED & HONOR ONE ANOTHER  By Pastor Dave  

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”  Romans 12:9-13

Dear Saintly Seed-Sowers and Faithful Friends:

It is with great joy in my heart that I sit down to write this week’s Seed of faith.  We have begun a new series at The Seed Christian Fellowship!  We are diving deep into the love and grace of God as we look at some of the wonderful and powerful “ONE ANOTHER” statements found in the Bible! I think it’s a great Lenten series: for us to focus on the words of Christ and the words of Paul.  Learning all of the “ONE ANOTHER” statements will certainly help us grow in our faith and love.

Last week, we looked at what it means to “GREET ONE ANOTHER.”  It is my hope and prayer that you took the “so what” challenge and greeted someone this past week.  Throughout my years of ministry, I’ve found that when you ask someone, “How are you?” their response is usually pretty limited. “Fine.”  “Good.” “Great.” But if you ask, “How’s your day going today?” You can get more of a conversation going. I’ve found that this single question has led into many opportunities for ministry. I’ve had people share their heart because they’re going through some hard things. It’s a good question to remember as you start each day and go out into the world. “How’s your day going so far?”

Today we turn our attention to Romans 12:9-21.  I printed the opening lines above for you to reflect on.  I hope you grab your own Bible (if you don’t have a Bible, I will send you one — just email me) and read Romans 12:9-21.

When I was in seminary, my best friend PJ hired me to learn the construction trade.  I went to seminary Monday through Thursday and worked for PJ on the weekends and during the summer.  I learned how to build homes and learned all kinds of construction work during those three years. I remember one time, right after I started working for PJ, my co-worker John, who is PJ”s brother,  and I were rough-framing this home out in the country.  We worked all morning framing in a two-story chimney chase. You know what a chimney chase is, don’t you?  It is the framing for the chimney so when the brick layers come in, they have a frame to work with in order to finish the chimney/fireplace. John and I worked all morning framing in this chimney chase; two stories high. PJ drove up in his pickup truck and pulled up beside the chimney chase.  He got out of his truck, looked at us and walked over to the chimney chase.  He stood there looking at the chimney chase.  To be honest with you — I was pretty proud of our work.  He then told us that the chimney chase was off by half an inch.  I stood there and started joking with him and told him there was no way we were off.. He told me that we were off by at least a half an inch.  I told him I would bet him a lunch.  He got out his plumb line and climbed the ladder and dropped the plumb line. Sure enough, we were off a half an inch.  I lost the bet and owed PJ a lunch.  Then PJ said, “Tear it down and start over.”  PJ told me that you must sincere and honest with your work if your name is going to be on it. Do you know that the word “sincere” means “to be without hypocrisy”?   

I thought of Paul in this verse. Paul is telling us that our love must be sincere, without hypocrisy or play-acting. What Paul is saying is that our love must not be putting on a fake face and playacting.  Our love must be sincere.  I thought of all of the plans for building a house.  When you build a house, you need to make sure that the foundation is straight and solid; otherwise, everything that I build on top of that foundation will be out of line. “Tear it down and reframe it, Dave, you’re off by half an inch.” I certainly don’t ever want to hear those words from Christ. I want my love to be sincere. I want to build a solid foundation on the solid rock of Christ.

When I first became a Christian in 1981, I started going to church faithfully. Church was hard work for me.  I didn’t grow up being a Christian, even though my grandmother loved to take us four boys to church. (By the way, church was right next door to her house!)  Growing up I had built  a lot of walls around my life.  I don’t know if you have ever done that?  When I was 12, I made a decision that I was not going to let anyone hurt me again. I didn’t let anyone really love me and, to be honest with you, I had all of that love and hate stuff mixed up. I loved doing the wrong things and I often hated doing what was good. I buried the pain of my brother’s death with alcohol. I drank excessively and often. I had Paul’s teaching backwards.  Have you ever done that?   Growing up, if I was clinging onto anything, I was clinging to me, myself and I.  That is a real “unholy trinity.”  There was no way I could be devoted to love one another if all I did was love myself. I was married with three small children before I realized that there was a different Trinity.

The Greek word Paul uses for “HONOR” is actually spelled “time” in Greek.  Isn’t that fascinating?  The truth is that if we really want to “honor one another” we will need to make time for others.  Paul said, “Honor one another above yourself.”   For a young man who grew up loving himself, learning to reverse that cycle was difficult for me. Like I said, I was married with 3 small children. My wife is a pretty smart woman, and she signed us up for a marriage retreat. I learned through that Marriage Encounter weekend that love is spelled “TIME.” When we honor one another, it’s going to take TIME. When you honor your spouse, plan on spending some TIME. When you honor your children, or family, plan on spending TIME. From that 1981 marriage retreat, I’ve never forgotten that LOVE is spelled TIME. 

Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, that we should try and outdo one another in showing love. The basic concept being taught is that if we want to keep the fires of love burning, we should learn how to love and honor one another. Wow!  That sounds just like these words from Romans.

My lifelong friend and former boss, PJ,had some pretty funny sayings.  He used to say, “Dave, measure twice, cut once.”  I think he was trying to teach me to slow down and take the time to make sure that I was right before I cut the wood. I think this is what our good friend, Paul, is teaching us. “Honor one another.” Make the time you need to honor one another.”  That statement can hit us pretty hard because so often in our individualistic society we have a hard time putting others above ourselves.  What I’ve found is that honoring one another is going to cost me time. It’s going to cost me “ME” time. I’m going to have to give up something in order to be able to spend the time it takes to honor one another.  I have an honest confession. I love to work. I really do. I love to read my commentaries, I love to journal on what I’m reading, and I love to do ministry. And every once in a while, I can get really caught up in all of those “me” things. God has blessed me with a wonderful wife and family. It doesn’t cost me anything except TIME to say to my wife, “Let’s go for a walk” or “let’s have a cup of coffee out by the fireplace.” Like I said, learning that love is spelled time really framed a new foundation in my life. I’ve found it to be a solid foundation.

The Apostle Paul said it. “Be devoted to one another in love!  Honor one another above yourself!  Live in harmony with one another.” 

I remember one time working construction when we had dug a hole for a swimming pool in the bottom of a hotel. PJ came along and said, “Our measurements are off by a foot. We have to dig the entire floor of the swimming pool out by a foot.” I found myself saying, “Why don’t we just raise the roof a foot?” PJ turned around and looked at me and I’ll never forget what he said.  “Dave, it’s going to take us 6 months to frame and build this hotel. And then for the next 60 years, kids are going to swim in that pool you’re digging. Our measurements are off by a foot. It’s not your fault. But you are going to make it right because it’s the right thing to do.”  My co-worker, Roger and I spent the rest of the day digging another 12 inches, another foot, out of the floor of the swimming pool by hand. By now, the frame work around the swimming pool had been finished and there was no way we could get a bobcat in to dig it out. Even during seminary, God kept hammering away at me: “LOVE IS SPELLED TIME.” With every shovel full of dirt, I was learning to “honor one another.” It took us one full day but we got that swimming pool ready. Even all these years later, kids and families are swimming away at that hotel. Our work was done correctly. I can look back now and know that I got it right.

So What?
I was 26 when I rededicated my life to Christ. I had a wife and three small children. I had a whole lot of learning and loving to do in order to be able to tear down the walls that I had built around my heart. Letting down our walls does, indeed, open us to many kinds of fear but it also opens us up to many kinds of love. On that same marriage weekend, I told my wife for the first time in seven years that I needed her. I had written her a love letter and I said those three, magic words. “I NEED YOU.” I will never forget my wife’s reaction. She cried. She really cried.  She didn’t just cry, she wailed. “You need me?” Let me tell you, the walls I had built that had insured my own safety from hurt came crashing down that day. I had learned Romans 12.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”  Romans 12:9-13 

Seed you Sunday!

Love really is spelled TIME.
HONOR ONE ANOTHER.
GREET ONE ANOTHER.

These ONE ANOTHER statements from the word are challenging.

Is your love sincere? Do you hate what is evil? Do you cling to what is good? Are you devoted to one another? Do you honor others above your holy trinity of ME, MYSELF and I?

Your “So What?” challenge is for you to spend some time figuring out what this HONOR ONE ANOTHER means to you in your life. I have some hard questions for you:

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.

Seed of Faith – GREET ONE ANOTHER By Pastor Dave  

“Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” I Peter 5:14

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:

Today we begin a new series based on the “One Another” passages found in the New Testament.  As I have been praying for you, and for so many others who are associated with The Seed, the Lord has put it on my heart for us to look at the passages that call us to become a community of believers.  One of the questions I wrestle with is, “How do we have community when there is so much dis-unity?” I believe that with the advancement of all of our electronic devices, our busyness of life, our divisive political world, our racial struggles, economic trials and religious differences, we have lost a sense of connection with “One Another.” This series is just part of the answer to more community in the church and in the world.

The New Testament writers wrestled with some of the same things we struggle with today.  In fact, many of the letters written in the New Testament were written to churches that were struggling with some of the exact things we struggle with. Over the next seven weeks, we will dive into the deep end of the pool, and learn what the early church struggled with and how they were encouraged to:

Greet One Another — Romans 16:1-16
Honor and be Devoted to One Another — Romans 12:9-21
Serve One Another — Galatians 5:13 & Ephesians 5:13-33
Live in Harmony with One Another — I Peter 1:3-17
Submit to One Another — Galatains 5:13

Teach, Admonish and Accept One Another — Romans 15:1-7; Colossians 3:12-17
Bear with One Another – Ephesians 4:1-10
Love One Another — John 13:1-34

An early “So what?” question is, “Have you ever thought about how we greet one another, honor one another, are devoted to one another, submit and serve one another, live in harmony with one another, teach, admonish, and accept one another, bear with one another and love one another?”
How good are we at all of these ONE ANOTHERS? How good are YOU?

I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read theses inspiring passages — Romans 16:1-16; I Peter 5:14; I Corinthians 16:19-24; II Corinthians 13:12-14; I Thessalonians 5:26-28.  Here we are encouraged to GREET ONE ANOTHER!

The Greek word for “greet” is “aspazomi” and in this context it is an imperative verb which is a command.  “Aspazomi” means “welcome kindly, receive one another, embrace,  be happy about,  bid welcome,  salute or  greet.”  I wonder what our world would be like if we really greeted one other. What would happen if we welcomed one another kindly? If we received one another with love? What would happen if we showed others just how happy we are to see them? That’s what our New Testament writers are talking about: Greet each other with God’s love. Salute one another—give one another a friendly gesture of respect, homage, and recognition. In today’s culture, it doesn’t have to be a hug or a holy kiss, but a hearty smile, a friendly fist pump, or high five can simply say, “I’m happy to see you today!”

In his beautiful TED talk, John Sutherland, an officer in London’s police department, explains a principle in Forensic Science called Locard’s Exchange Principle. Developed by Dr. Edmond Locard, known as the Sherlock Holmes of France, this principle has a simple premise: every contact leaves a trace. In other words, every criminal leaves a trace behind him. One forensic expert put it this way:  Wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will serve as a silent witness against him. Not only his fingerprints or his footprints, but his hair, the fibers from his clothes, the glass he breaks … the paint he scratches, the blood … he deposits or collects … This is evidence that does not forget.  Sutherland explains how this principle applies not just to forensic science but to all human relationships:  Every time two people come into contact with one another, an exchange takes place. Whether between lifelong friends or passing strangers, we encourage, we ignore, we hold out a hand, or we withdraw it. We walk towards or we walk away. We bless or we curse… And every single contact leaves a trace. The way that we treat and regard one another matters. It really matters.[i]

The other day Jac and I went out to eat out a local restaurant.  As we went to find a seat, Jac noticed an older gentleman with a Veteran’s cap. He was in a wheelchair. She stopped and said, “Thank you for your service.” Without blinking, the older veteran saluted her from his wheelchair. “My pleasure, mam. Serving was my pleasure.”

SO WHAT?
My “so what” this week is for us to step out of our comfort zone. Greet one another—and not just here but at home, at work, at the grocery store, movies, wherever you go. I’m not recommending that you go hug everyone out there but…you can greet one another with a smile.  Just smile at someone and see what happens.  Take out your headphones and greet the person next to you at the grocery store. Call your checkout person, waitress or waiter by name.   Maybe even bless someone with a wave and a “have a great day!”

I’ve been doing ordained ministry for over 20 years. It’s a full-time job. Here’s the one thing that I’ve found that opens the door to a person’s day. “How’s your day going?” I ask it everywhere I go: the post office, the grocery clerk, the server at the restaurant, our trash truck drivers.  I encourage you to ask that question, too, as you go about your way until we meet again. I don’t ask, “How are you?” because that almost always results in a one-word answer of  “Fine” but when you ask someone, “How’s your day going?” You know what? They tell you. When they tell me they are having a bad day or a hard day, I tell them, “I’ll pray for you.”

Okay, repeat after me: Greet one another. (Greet one another.) How’s your day going? (How’s your day going?)

This is your assignment for the week. Be intentional. When you go out to the grocery, smile and greet someone. When you go to work, stop and ask your co-workers, “How’s your day going?” You can also ask how their week is going. Ask your family members, “Hey, I’ve been thinking of you today, how’s your day going so far?”  A text to your busy spouse just might make you a hero or shero. Every day try to greet someone–“Aspazomi”… “welcome kindly, receive one another, embrace,  be happy about,  bid welcome,  salute or  greet.”  “Hey, I’m happy to see you!”

When Jac and I were raising our family, we tried to have dinner at 6. In between all of the sports and school events–we tried to sit down as a family as often as we could. We asked the kids to pick one of these three words:  BAD. SAD. GLAD. They could share on any one of these words. Pretty soon they were sharing on all three. (This is how we started to find out if our son was getting a grade notice report in the coming mail! He was famous for them. “Mom, Dad, I try to see how low I can get my grades and then I see how high they can go!” He never missed the B honor roll and it was kind of nice to know that his grade report was on its way. We will never forget Brian and his friends all sitting at the dining room table working on their Math, English and Science! Jac would feed them and I would try to help. Great memories.)

I may not tell you often enough, but I love being called to be your pastor. With every handshake, or abrazo — holy hug or handshake, you have greeted me (welcomed me, received me, embraced me, saluted me and have been happy to see me) with God’s great love.  May we as a church community always greet one another with God’s great love!

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 3/23/19

Seed of Faith – TRANSFIGURATION TO TRANSFORMATION   By Pastor Dave  

“About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” Luke 9:28-29

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers:

SPRING HAS SPRUNG! Happy Spring to all! We’ve all endured a long winter; it’s great to have the HOPE that Spring brings.

Over the past few weeks, we have been looking at a few, different “P” words: PRESENCE – PROMISES- POWER –  & POSSIBILITIES. Today we will look at our final “P” word:  PURPOSE!  I pray for you all each day. I always welcome any prayer concern. One of my daily prayers is that you will learn what your purpose is on this earth. I hope this SEED OF FAITH helps with that.

It’s time for an early “so what?”   How would our lives change if we lived in The Presence, The Promises, The Power, and The Possibilities of our amazing God? This is the question that will lead us to find our PURPOSE.
1.  “What is God’s purpose for my life?”
2.  “What is my purpose here on earth?”
3.  “Does my purpose change with the seasons of my life?”   

Seriously, stop for a moment and be quiet. Do you know your purpose for your life? Is your purpose the same as it’s always been or has it changed with the seasons of your life? Our Scripture for today is Luke 9:28-36. In this passage we read about the Transfiguration of Christ.  Another question to ask: How is my life transformed by the transfiguration?  (Have you ever noticed how many questions are asked in the Bible? Have you ever noticed how many questions Jesus is asked? Have you ever noticed how many questions Jesus asks? Get your notebook out because it’s a lot!)

Today we are in the Gospel of Luke with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Think about this for a moment. Put yourself into this story. Peter, John, James and Jesus have gone to the mountain to pray.  Suddenly there are two more people with them: Moses, who has experience with God on a mountaintop, and Elijah, who also has some mountaintop experience. The three of these men are standing together, discussing Jesus’ departure. I love to put myself into the stories of the Bible. What were these three saying?  Maybe Moses and Elijah were preparing Jesus for the imminent, upcoming reality check of the valley below.  Perhaps Moses was reminding Jesus of what happened to him during his mountaintop experiences. Maybe he was saying, “All I know is that I had stone tablets from God and I returned to my people worship and a golden cow!”  Maybe Elijah was reminding Jesus of how God came through in a powerful way for him up on Mt. Carmel. “God slayed all those false prophets, Jesus, and then Jezebel threatened to kill me.” What do you think these three holy men were discussing? I often wonder.  Maybe they were preparing Jesus for the final days in Jerusalem: a betrayal, an arrest, a trial, a crucifixion, a resurrection.

In our story, we are told that as soon as Jesus, Peter, James and John traveled down the mountain, a large crowd descended upon them.  We are presented with the story of the father and his demon-possessed son. Last week, we looked at this passage and we learned that all things are possible for those who believe.

Jesus has just experienced a powerful, mountain-top experience (have you been there?) only to come crashing back into the valley of real life.  I think our Gospel-writing friend, Dr. Luke, is trying to tell us a secret through his story:  GET READY TO GET SMASHED, CRASHED, and BASHED after your exhilarating GOD MOMENT on the MOUNTAIN TOP!

I have been on many spiritual retreats.  I have had powerful God moments of mountain highs. It seems they all have one thing in common: I usually come crashing back down into the valley of the reality. It’s plenty of fun to spend time on the mountaintop. We have members who allow my wife and I to spend time in their mountain cabin any time we want. It’s exhilarating to spend a week up in the fresh air.  It’s amazing to see the 100′ tall pine trees sway in the breeze. Each time we go, I marvel at God’s creation and I am refueled and refilled with all of the “P’s” we’ve been studying: PRESENCE – PROMISES- POWER –  & POSSIBILITIES.  I come down from our weekends, and our spiritual retreats, and I am reminded over and over: “You may have been changed this weekend, Dave, but remember:  the world has not.”  Toby Mac sent out a post this week that read,  “The God on the mountain is still the God in the valley.”  

In our reading from Luke, we hear that Jesus’ face was changed, his clothes became white like lightning. Luke says Jesus was transformed. Mark and Matthew use a different verb to describe the scene.  They both wrote that Jesus was transfigured right before Peter, James and John.  The Greek word they used for transfigured” or “changed” is “metamorphoo.”  This is the exact word from where we get the word “metamorphosis.”  What our Gospel writers are trying to convey to us is that as Jesus was praying on that mountaintop his face was changed, transfigured and transformed right in front of Peter, James and John’s very eyes. Metamorphoo. Just like when the caterpillar crawls into the crysalis and at some point–a total reconfiguration of that caterpillar is configured into a butterfly? Yes.  Exactly like that. Jesus was metamorphoo-ed. Transfigured.

So What?
In 2000 I met for lunch with a man I had spent a weekend with through Marriage Encounter. My wife and I were on team as a presenting clergy couple. The man and his wife were blessed by the marriage encounter experience. After the weekend, he invited me to lunch because he had a question he wanted to ask me. I arrived late from a memorial service.  When we settled in to our lunch, the man asked me the question he had been pondering: What is it that brings me my greatest joy in ministry?  I looked at him and, without missing a beat, I told him that my greatest joy is seeing someone’s life transformed by the love of Christ. The man smiled at me and said that he has met with many pastors and has asked them the same question. Why did they go into full-time ministry?  He told me he had pastors who just looked at him and say, “I don’t know. I haven’t ever stopped to think what give me my greatest joy.”  Some of the pastors told him that studying, reading, preaching, and teaching gave them their greatest joy.  My friend responded that I was the only pastor who had answered so quickly and so confidently about my passion and joy.  (My friend is now almost 85. He’s been asking questions about life for many years. My friend is also an orthopedic surgeon.)  I still to this day will give you the same answer: Transformation!

TRANSFORMATION! I have news for you. Jesus isn’t the only person who was changed that day on the mountain top. I’m pretty sure Peter, James and John were METAMORPHOOED, too. I’m pretty sure that their mountaintop experience with Jesus is what changed them and gave them the courage to face the battles in the valley below.  I’m also sure that our own personal encounters with God have METAMORPHOOED us, too.

Our purpose in life, no matter what season we are in, is for us to allow the love and grace of Jesus Christ to transform us.

Transformation. Like the caterpillar crawling into the chrysalis…there is that moment that no one can pinpoint to…when that caterpillar is TRANSFORMED…metamorphooed….transfigured…into a brand new creation…a butterfly.  This is our purpose: to let the grace of Christ change us into the person of God that we’ve been called to become.

The 5 P’s:
Presence —
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
Promises — “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4
Power — “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength ….” Ephesians 1:18-19
Possibilities — “Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered.  “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”   “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”  Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:22-24
Purpose — “As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, (transfigured -transformed) and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” Luke 9:29, 35

I leave you today with a few questions that only you can answer. What is it that gives your life purpose? Is it time for you to go away to a mountaintop? (Your mountaintops can be anywhere–on a retreat, at the beach, at church.) Maybe it’s just time for you to take a day and be alone with God. Drive out to that park, or church, or lake. Bring your bible. Pray. What is it that I call my life’s purpose? What do these 5 “P’s” have to do with my life? Do I feel God’s presence within me? Do I trust in God’s promises? Do I acknowledge that God has all the power I need for my life? Am I open to all of the possibilities God has for me? Is my purpose changing? Am I entering a new season?

Living the Christian life is the most exciting thing I know.  Every day I pray for you. I pray that God, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, and with the reality of the resurrected Christ, will guide you to live the most purposeful life you dream of.

Seed you Sunday!
God loves you with an everlasting love and outrageous grace 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.