Coffee anyone?

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A group of young adults got together at a friend’s home.
They talked about a lot of things but soon the conversation turned into complaints  about politics, stress in work, trouble in our country & life.
The host offered his guests coffee.  He went to the kitchen where he had already prepared the coffee.  He picked out a number of different cups and mugs, as he had a good collection.  Some were porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain-looking, some expensive, and some exquisite.  He brought it into the room with sugar and cream telling them to help themselves to the coffee.   After everyone had chosen a cup, and began to drink their coffee, the host remarked to the group.  "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for us to want only the best for ourselves, that is the source of our problems and stress.   "Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee.  In most cases, it's just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup.   But, subconsciously, we go for the best cups...and then we began eyeing each other's cups.   "Now consider this: Life is the coffee, and the jobs, money and, the politics, our position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not define nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us. God brews the coffee, not the cups.  Let’s enjoy our coffee.”   When a family suffers a devastating fire in their home a number of things transpire.  There is the immediate shock followed by the sense of loss when you start to realize all that was destroyed.  The task of sorting through the rubble, is often a very painful task.  People often have to move out of the house right away due to health issues or safety problems.  That change in itself can be very demoralizing.   At some point you begin to focus on what is really important in life. It always comes down to loved ones and relationships.  You realize that your life was not the house of the things in it.  Job, in the Old Testament, experienced this in a major way that. God forbid we will ever have to experience such a nightmare.   The house the clothes, the possessions, were just the cups that hold our lives. God is most concerned about His beloved children. The cups they come and go.  Sometimes in life the cups are beautiful and precious.  At other times they are downright disappointments. But through it all, it is the “coffee” that is important, what God is brewing in our lives.  
Fortunately, we know the end of the story.  These cups here are only temporary.  Jesus is preparing a new cup for us, that will be glorious and it will carry this precious gift of life into all eternity.
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Enjoy your coffee,
Pastor Mike


I Can’t Wait!

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A long, long, time ago, Alabama sang a song that 'fit me to a tee':

 

"I'm in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life's no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I'm in a hurry and don't know why.
Don't know why I have to drive so fast
My car has nothing to prove,
It's not new But it'll do 0 to 60 in 5.2
Can't be late, I leave plenty of time
Shaking hands with the clock,
I can't stop I'm on a roll
and I'm ready to rock
I hear a voice That say's I'm running behind
I better pick up my pace, It's a race
And there ain't no room For someone in second place."

 

I remember my mother laughing at me when I was 5 years old and just starting kindergarten (a traumatic life style change for me). My question was very simple. “How long do I have to keep going to school?” After falling apart in laughter, she gently broke the news to me that it would be, at the very least, another 12 years.

 

In my mind, the starter’s gun shot out, & my “race with time” had just begun.

I couldn’t wait to finish kindergarten.

I couldn’t wait to finish grade school and then high school.

I couldn’t wait to finish college. I stumbled out of the starter’s gate & it took me 5 years, but I finally did finish.

By then, I was a follower of Jesus and had my call to full time ministry.

I couldn’t wait to get married and have our own children.

I couldn’t wait to finish Seminary & come back home to California.

I couldn’t wait to get my first church in Kernville.

I couldn’t wait to become an associate up in Yuba City. But after 3 years,

I couldn’t wait to leave.

I couldn’t wait to finish my doctoral studies, but no one seemed to notice.

I couldn’t wait to grow a large church in Orangevale, but it all fell apart right before my very eyes. I wasn’t completely broken, but I was badly bent.

I couldn’t wait to get well, to get my mind right. It is still a battle at times.

I couldn’t wait to get on the “mission field”. After several short term trips,   I couldn’t wait to get into the 10/40 window and reach those yet unreached.

 

I know what you must be thinking. “Now there is a “Type A” Driven man."

And I have no defense for that accusation. As you can clearly see, I have been impatient for most of my life.

The good news is that God has a lot of patience.

2 Peter 3:8-9 NASB

8     But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.

9     The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

 

For people like me, that is incredible. He could have squashed me like a bug, years ago. But His love for me, my soul, my eternity, is so very important. He was (& is) waiting for me to accomplish the task that was assigned to me when I became a follower of Jesus.

 

For me, I just keep prodding and kicking, like a rice farmer in Myanmar, trying to get that beast of burden to move a little faster. Some might say that I am too persistent. There is a big difference between being impatient and being persistent. Impatient people like me worry so much. We are fearful that we might run out of time & thereby miss out on the opportunity. I can see it all now. They are closing the door to the plane that I should have been on. As I race to the terminal gate, I am too late. I missed my connection. And so I worry. Always thinking about what might have been.

Matthew 6:25-34 NASB

25     “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink;

nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

33     “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,  and all these things will be added to you.

34     “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

Life becomes so much sweeter when we allow God to do the leading and directing. He has His own timetable.

 Mike-e1342678172131-150x150

Tempus fugit – Pastor Mike

 



Go With The Flow?

There are a few shows on television that I find entertaining & a challenge to the mind. They usually feature detectives or their associates who have the uncanny ability to see the things hidden from most of us and thereby be able to solve the crime. Sometimes the extrapolations are a bit far-fetched, but after all, it is fiction meant to entertain, not science meant to prove. Literature is filled with such characters like Sherlock Holmes and Jessica Fletcher, and Hercules Poirot. The Patrick Jane in the Mentalist is a current day version of such fictional characters. The ancient Greeks had a school of philosophers known as the Sophists, 5937020-the-thinker-statue-by-the-french-sculptor-rodinwho took pride in their ability to prove impossible things. Some sophists even hired themselves out at public events, where audiences could watch spellbound as they proceeded to prove propositions that were obviously false. They were quite the tricksters of mental gymnastics. Down through history there have always been “intellectuals” who have used their positions of power and their uncanny ability to argue “nonsense” while ignoring the reality of history in order to promote their own radical agenda. This was never more true than what we saw in the 60’s and early 70’s with the huge counter-culture movement designed not just to end the Vietnam war, but to reshape America into a Socialist state. The “true believers” in this movement turned a blind eye to what social communism did as it swept into the vacancy left by our departure, torturing and killing millions upon millions of people. We didn't hear a word from our own news media as the socialists set up their brutal dictatorships of oppression backed by fear of what would happen to you if you didn't co-operated. They weren't very tolerant leaders. Some of the “movers and shakers” behind the American counter culture did see what happened. Their eyes were opened as they realized what these communist regimes had done in the 20th century. Literally countless numbers of people were brutally killed. Racism and intolerance skyrocketed. Many of the counter culture who were honest, had “second thoughts” about their political views as they saw firsthand the end result of their “dream ideals” in Marxism. David Horowitz is one of the leaders of this movement. But many of these extremists stayed the course. They realized that the power rested with those who controlled the institutions of learning and culture. They put together a long range plan of taking over the institutions of education. Under their leadership, the schools of higher learning would come to be filled with sociologists, art critics, psychologists, philosophers, "sexologists," political scientists, and a host of other "experts" intent on converting Marxism from a strictly economic theory into a cultural reality in America. These were the roots of the secular progressive movement in America today. “Tolerance” was the by-word that they used in order to get their foot in the door, and to eventually take over. What we have discovered today is that their “tolerance” was a virtual one way street. They wanted tolerance for their agenda’s, but there was to be no tolerating of any opposing positions. Today they have pretty much shut down the opposition. If you are a conservative in your values and morals, if you believe in the traditional strong beliefs of Scripture and in Jesus Christ you will not get the opportunity for your voice to be heard. This seems a little strange coming out of liberal institutions where “tolerance” and “freedom of speech” were championed as the sacred stones upon which they could build their “empire”. Today they will go to any lengths to shut up conservative Christians and to put evangelicals down. The true believers of secular progressivism have won the cultural war and they don't intend to give an inch of ground back. And now it is up to the “true believers” in Jesus Christ to take their stand. We have enjoyed the comfort of easy Christianity since the founding of our country. But now the table has been turned. There is increasing hostility toward those of us who disagree with the ongoing normalization of homosexual conduct and so-called “gay marriage.” In recent months we've seen people as varied as football players, TV stars, restaurant owners, wedding photographers, and others face fines, suspensions, and even the loss of their livelihoods for failing to celebrate the new sexual orthodoxy. As followers of the Way the Truth and the Life, we are going to have to adapt to this change. At a recent prayer breakfast in Washington, DC, Professor Robert George, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said: “The days of acceptable Christianity are over ... It's no longer easy to be a faithful Christian ... They threaten us with consequences if we refuse to call what is good, evil, and what is evil, good. They demand us to conform our thinking to their orthodoxy, or else say nothing at all.” And what happens if we don’t go along? According to Robert George : “To be a witness to the Gospel today is to make oneself a marked man or woman. It is to expose oneself to scorn and reproach. ... One may in consequence of one’s public witness, be discriminated against, denied education opportunities and the prestigious credentials they offer, one may lose valuable opportunities of employment or professional advancement.” The persecution that has afflicted Christianity in two thirds of the world for centuries is now coming to America, a country founded on religious freedom.  Leave it to Satan to pull off a coup like this! I would say that they must be rejoicing in Hell, but then I remember, there is nothing but terror, weeping, gnashing of teeth in that realm of eternal flame and darkness. Thanks to the rulers of this American world, “normal” has changed. The basic definition of culture is what a group of people have accepted as normal. The normal has changed in our culture and there is no hope in it.  Good is now called evil and evil is called good. Is there any chance of repentance, (turning around) for our culture? There is a chance, but it is slim indeed. For it requires Christians to begin to stand up, and speak out, not in condemnation, but in offering the Hope and Change from the True Messiah, Jesus the Christ. And this must be done in an encouraging, forgiving, humble and winsome way. People who are enslaved to various forms of immorality and suffer different types of brokenness need to be able to come to the church and find answers. We must wage war by offering love with our words, our lives, and our actions. The church is a hospital for the “sin sick”. If this is ever going to happen, then we need to start training the Body of Christ in how to make our case in a positive way. We have kept silent too long. We must begin to speak out. As Mordechai told Queen Esther in chapter 4 of the book of Esther: 13    “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews (the people of God). 14    “For if you remain silent at this time, relief & deliverance will arise for the Jews (God’s People) from another place and you and your father’s house (America) will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” You and I live in this culture. You were born, ordained by God, for such a time as this. We must pick up this Cross and          follow our Lord, regardless of the consequences. Veritas pro Christo et ecclesia, Pastor Mike