Mesa Church Blog

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Looking in the Wrong Place

They women had started early at dawn to go to the tomb. It is a little hard to imagine all the things that must have been going through their heads. It had been such an unusual time and just when they thought it was finally finished, they were surprised again. The women had come to the tomb with spices for a burial but there was no one to bury. They were prepared for the worst. They were prepared to deal with a body that had been beaten and abused severely. The were prepared to take care of someone they loved. They were not prepared for him to have risen from the dead.
 
The angel’s question was, “Why seek the living among the dead?” They were looking in the wrong place if they were looking for Jesus. Faith is hard enough when everything stays where it belongs. We like to have proof of what we know. Our faith is not in God who died but rather in God who was raised from the dead. Our God is alive. They were asked to believe in something beyond what they had experienced.
 
Now that it has been this long since Jesus rose from the dead what difference does it make? We expect God to be where he should be. We expect God to show up in predictable places. He should be there in church and when we pray. The rest of the time we expect God to just stay in heaven until we call for him. We don’t really expect him to be around during our normal times. We know God can be everywhere, but when he does show up, we are surprised to see him.
 
The resurrection means Jesus is no longer in the tomb but has ascended to heaven. Our faith is not in the death of Jesus but in a risen savior. Jesus appeared to the early disciples in the upper room on Sunday. They were frightened and thought he might be a ghost. We understand today that Jesus show up when we are here to worship him. It is where he should be. By our coming to meet him in worship we profess our faith that Jesus can come to be with us. We don’t come with spices for a burial or memorial but with praise for a risen savior. We worship a king who has risen from the dead. He reigns in heaven but he is also with us in worship. He can hear our song. He can hear our prayer. He promises we will not be left in the tomb and we will not need spices. We will be resurrected to a new life with him. He calls it the glory of the Father.  
 
Terry
Wednesday, March 31, 2021

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A Simple Plan to Amazing Adventures

Some people are always late. They just don’t get ready in time. The time it takes to get ready has a lot to do with how complicated the task is. If all we need to do is show up and sit in a chair, we just have to get ourselves dressed and transported to the chair. If we are supposed to think about something when we are there it will take some more mental preparation to listen. We need to be aware of the amount of time it takes to be ready for bigger activities. Maybe the reason we don’t do any bigger activities is because we don’t take the steps to be ready.
 
Nancy and I would post activities we did on Facebook just to share some of the things we were doing. The reason we started was because we realized in some other places we had lived; we had missed out on the good things in the area. I was amazed at how many people said they wished they could go places. The wished they could go hike, kayak and drive to different beautiful locations we have in Arizona. All it takes is picking the trail or drive. Make sure there is gas in the car, you have poles, water, snacks and a map and then go. If we forgot something, we will remember the next time. It isn’t hard but it does take just a little planning.
 
Planning small things can lead to planning bigger things. We may plan to teach a class at church. We just need to know the material and figure out how we want to say it. Do we need papers or pictures to help us in saying it better? We think how we can get those papers and pictures to the class to use in a good way. When we go teach, we are the ones with a plan for what will happen. The students usually just planned to come and sit. They don’t have anything in mind and are usually glad to follow someone who does. We start with one lesson for one class and before long we are looking at several lessons we can teach.
 
When Jesus told the parable of the talents, he mentioned one person who had two talents. (Matthew 25:15) He also says they were given this by the master according to their ability. The one with two talent was not in competition with the one who has five. He was not better than the one with only one talent. He was only responsible for two and even the master knew it would not be good to give him more. That was true until he had gained two more talents and now can handle four. God knows what we can handle and does not give us more. Somehow handling four is not any harder than it was to work with two. We grew into it. All it takes is to plan for something simple right now.  
 
Terry
Friday, March 26, 2021

 


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It Will Get Better

Jesus was the best person who ever lived. He is the standard and we look up to him. He never sinned against God. He had the same emotions and struggles as everyone else. Sometimes he was angry and sometimes he rejoiced. He was disappointed in people and he was amazed at the faith of others. He did not get along with everyone. He had arguments and disagreements with some people. He had compassion on others that were not living like they should. They had been beaten down and were now helpless and hopeless. Jesus saw that as an opportunity to help them be better people. We may not all know how to make the best of life. Jesus was there to give hope.  
 
We like to think it will get better for several reasons. We think it will be better with time, so next week or next month should be better. It will get better after winter is over. It will get better when we get older or when the kids reach the next stage. It will get better if we had more money. We would be able to afford all the things we need to make it better. It will get better when we have less work to do and we could handle the schedule better. We look at every circumstance and how it could be better, but we forget to look at ourselves.
 
Jesus told them their way to getting a better life was to be better people. He preached repentance and forgiveness from the past mistakes and sins. We cannot continue to do the things we have been doing and expect it to get better. When we decide to change ourselves and live differently, then the situations may change. We could find ourselves in a different situation because we are different people. We have the same personality but now we are forgiven and no longer carry guilt or shame. We can be people who are holy and have gone beyond, “Does it feel good,” to being blessed.
 
Being a better person is first a change in attitude. We are no longer controlled by the wishes, wants and defensiveness that was before. We think more about God and what he wants rather than our wants. It opens up ways we relate with each other. If we can be better people, it gives everyone else the chance to respond differently to us. It won’t solve all arguments or disagreements. I may even make some more pronounced. We will know it is not because we have not tried to make it the best we can. It means we can have compassion on others and help them as they struggle with life. As we see them get better it makes us better as well. It all begins with repenting of the past sins and moving forward to being a better person in Jesus.
 
Terry
Friday, March 19, 2021

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When Do We Rejoice?

We rejoice when we get something new. We have been waiting for a new car and we are finally able to get one. We still had to pay for it, but somehow just the fact that we have something new that we have always wanted makes us happy. We rejoice and want to share our joy with the people who care about the details in our life. The longer we have been waiting and planning to get it the more excited we are.
 
We rejoice when new people come into our life. Maybe they are not new, but the relationship is new, and it develops into a friendship that makes us rejoice. We are able to feel close, comfortable and confident of the other person and we are more open to them. As trust grows and develops, we rejoice when we have time to share in adventures and even the daily things that fill our life.  
 
Our relationship with Jesus develops this and is a reason to rejoice. Very few of us started like Pentecost with the accusation of some horrible crime. We just came to realize our distance from God and that we didn’t have the reason for rejoicing yet. We were struggling on our own to make ourselves happy and it wasn’t working so well. There wasn’t much reason for rejoicing. But when we surrendered to Jesus and to his love and sacrifice all the blessings and benefits came to us. The realization of grace, redemption, adoption and forgiveness filled us with rejoicing at the love of God and how he had responded to us.
 
The early Christians rejoiced in their suffering for Jesus. They considered it an accomplishment to suffer for the cause of Christ because so many others had their faith tested before. They considered the example of prophets and righteous men who had lived before and had faith to stand for God. We can rejoice even when there are hard times in life. A pandemic does not take away our reason or ability to rejoice, it only limits our activity. Paul and Silas prayed and sang from a prison cell. God responded to such praise with an earthquake for freedom and an opportunity to convert the jailor. Our rejoicing is not just for us to feel happy. Our rejoicing gives God the opportunity to do his mighty work.
 
Terry
Friday, March 12, 2021

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speaking Like Jesus

There has always been different ideas competing for our attention. We see different side on a lot of issues. We see things differently than others do. It was not always easy to be vocal about the different issues. Everyone had an opinion, but they weren’t public, and no one asked. We all went along with our different opinions while a few people who were louder and more in the front gave the different sides. With the coming of social media, we are able to quietly have our opinion in a very loud way. We can post it so the whole world can see who we agree with and who we don’t. It seems some would even suggest that it is a responsibility or a right to be loud and vocal about our opinion and announce it to the world. What has happened is we have a lot of opinions out there and people choosing sides for who they agree with and being vocal about their disagreements. We are faced with all the issues all the time and every opinion all at once. We have the ability to say a lot of things, but we need decide whether it is best.  
 
Paul says, “ Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:6 What we say is intentional and we need to use our words well. When we decide to be on one side or the other it doesn’t mean we can say anything we want any way we want. There is a right way to respond to each person. Let our message and the way we say things be a blessing to people.
 
One of the important concepts of Jesus was the unity of his followers. He did send his followers out, but not to express their own opinions, but to teach his truth. Jesus main message was about a kingdom that was coming. He wanted people to be ready to accept his kingdom, not make suggestions about how it should be run. He often used the idea of a wedding or feast that we were invited to and an were looking forward to the coming of the person of honor. We were never the person of honor in the story. Jesus talks about the greatest being the servant not the celebrated. We were to fit ourselves into his kingdom with Jesus ask king doing things his way.
 
When Jesus talks about our influence it is not by aggressive confrontation. He talks about the mustard seed that begins with just a tiny seed but grows bigger than the other plants in the garden. He compares us to leaven that is hidden in a lump of dough until the whole lump is leavened. The influence is huge but it is done in a quiet way. We are the lamp that is lit so everyone in the house can see the light of Christ, not our own light. People can see their way, but they don’t praise the lamp, it is just doing what it was designed to do. It is this natural organic kind of growth, development and influence that changes the world.
Terry
Friday, March 5, 2021

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Deciding to Act

We all have things we have to do, but when do we decide to actually do them? Some people do things early and they are always caught up. They pay their bills early; they shop early, and they plan for things they want to do. Others will wait until the end of the deadline and get it done just in time. No sense in paying bills early or getting things done ahead when there are so many other things to do. Some people intended to get things done on time, but they are always a little bit late. They show up a little late, they pay things a little late, they have a plan, but something always gets in the way so that they are just a little bit behind. It doesn’t stop there. For some the deadline is just before the service are shut off rather than the time requested it be done. The water or power is about to be shut off and then they decide to act. And some wait until after everything has been shut off and they have to pay extra to get reconnected and begin service again.
 
Some of this has to do with the ability we have to keep things going. If we have the resources, we will fall somewhere in the first part with trying to keep things paid at least before it is shut off. If we don’t have the resources, we tend to wait. We will still have to pay it, but we didn’t start finding resources until after the consequences are already done. Only then do we decide that we should do something about it. It is amazing how consistent we are in keeping this schedule.
 
When do we decide to act for God? Some people will begin when the opportunity is first presented. We have a chance to serve God and we are ready to serve. Some of us will wait and see if anyone else is willing to do it and if not then we are willing. And some wait until the deadline and it needs to be done by tomorrow morning and it has become a crisis emergency to get it done. We will help if we can but if we don’t have what we need to do a good job, we will wait until we do.
 
Anytime we do something for God it is good no matter when it is. But what did Jesus teach and expect his disciples to do? He gives praise to the one who see what needs to be done and does it before anyone even asks. He calls it having great faith. Before they have the resources or even know the complete plan some are willing to ask and act when they know it is impossible. A leper tells Jesus you can make me clean if you are willing. (Matt. 8:2) A centurion tells Jesus he doesn’t have to come heal his servant, only say the word. (Luke 7:7) A woman believes she can be cured if she just touches the edge of his cloak. (Luke 8:44) A woman believes she can be forgiven and comes to anoint Jesus’ feet with ointment. (Luke 7:37) It is the people who act on the possibility before the reality that Jesus recognizes as having great faith. Let us decide to act in faith for God when we see the opportunity.
 
Terry
Friday, February 26, 2021

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Potential or Faith

Potential is what we talk about when we see someone promising that could be great in the future. The dictionary says potential is, “existing in possibility: capable of development into actuality”. It is when we can see something may happen in the future, but it isn’t here yet. We claim potential in our children when we recognize the development of a certain talent or ability. We may get them lessons to help develop their ability to fulfill their potential. We see it mentioned on sports programs where they talk about young players who have the potential to be great. When we watch the Olympics, we often see information about the person they expected to win and so they recorded the interview and background earlier. They recognized the potential winner. We also see the background clip when the person fell rounding the last corner and didn’t even finish the race. The potential was there but unrealized.
 
Do we ever run out of potential? Do we run out of a future and there are no more options? It may seem like options are limited but we never run out of options. There is always a next. Another day, another sunrise, another sunset and a few more moments when something can be done. Not great things but good things. We don’t get people excited about our potential unless we are winning something, but there is a possibility of development into actuality.
 
The Bible does not use the word potential. It isn’t that the concept isn’t there, but that is not the way God talks about it. There is a lot of possibility for development but rather than the expectation of potential, the Bible talks about believing something will happened until it is a reality. When God appoints a person to a task, he knows it will happen and it is not the expectation of potential. God has Samuel anoint David as King long before David ever takes the throne. David is God’s king. He doesn’t have potential to be king, he is God’s king. God speaks in terms of reality that exists by faith.
 
When we come to Jesus repenting of sins and being baptized into his name, we don’t have the potential of salvation. God says we are saved. He counts it as already done. We are not on some kind of probation to see if we will live up to our covenant. God says we have turned from darkness to light and we are in his kingdom. We are adopted as son and we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus and we have forgiveness of our sin. We have faith in God that is able to carry out his promises. We are not looking at the potential of heaven but know it is there for us already. We live in the reality of faith and not the uncertainty of potential.
 
Terry
Wednesday, February 17, 2021

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God Makes Love Easy

We miss getting to be with people and we think of relatives and imagine how nice it would be to all be together. It is nice but it is not always easy. We get used to our schedule and then we have to adjust to other people who have different schedules. We love to be with them, but it is still and adjustment. They like to eat different food than we like. We like to eat early, and they like to eat late. We like to go out and they like to stay at home. Those are just the timing of things and we just have to work through those things because we really do want to be together. That can add stress to the situation as we learn to work together. We compromise and just work it out.
 
It is harder to work together when someone has done something wrong. We are hurt by what they did, and they did say they were sorry, but everything is not back to normal. We still love them, but it seems strained. We are not sure we should trust them. There are things we didn’t do right either, but we had a good excuse and we expected it to be over, but we wonder if they aren’t still a little distant. It would be nice if people weren’t so sensitive to the things we do.
 
There are things we have done wrong against God, but he has never done anything against us. He has done nothing but love us. He has wanted what was best and done what was best for us. Even when we did bad things against him he still did good things for us. He sent Jesus and he took all the uncomfortable out of the relationship and just wanted us to be back again. He didn’t act like we should be on probation or like he would only listen to some prayers. When we worship it wasn’t like he was judging our singing or wondering if our repentance was real. We may have wondered if we could keep our commitment to him more than he did. He just loved us and accepted us.
 
We struggle to find peace in the middle of so many rules and restrictions that we experience now. We have to wear masks to be around each other. We have to be careful being too close. We use sanitizer as a way to kill germs we got on us. And then when we touch something else we have to do it again. And again. When God cleanses us from sin and mistakes, it isn’t like we have to live in fear of being contaminated but everything around us. Yes, there is sin in the world, but the love of God has made a way for us to be cleansed of all sin. It doesn’t rub off on us, we have to intentionally decide to do it. It can be distracting sometimes but God loves us and trusts us to be focused on him. We can find peace with God because of the way he loves us.
 

 Terry

Friday, February 12, 2021

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Giving Faith to the World

People around is are changing because of a shift in culture. There is a difference in the way we think. Some things that were illegal only a few years ago are now accepted as normal by a lot of people. We don’t want to be behind in our acceptance of new things, so we tend to not decide what we believe very quickly. Some have decided not to make any decision of what they believe. That means we don’t form our actions out of what we believe but more out of what is convenient. We look at what other people are doing and decide more by someone else’s belief. What does the church believe or the elders believe becomes the question. Many don’t have their own faith so their actions are not from faith but more from what will be accepted by people they know. We tend to take up causes for other people because they believe it rather than because we have faith.
 
If we don’t have our own faith, then it is difficult to teach what we believe. We tend to teach what the experts think. Here is the common thinking today that is accepted by most people. Our encyclopedia is Wikipedia which is a website of everyone’s opinion. Much of it is true but it is not from experts or qualified people. Anyone can post a definition or put in their opinion. Facebook and twitter have become sources of authority because other people said it. We have also begun to dispute what other people say. We tend not to think anyone has any credibility. If we ever did come to our own faith and decide what we believe a lot of people would treat it is as just another opinion like so many others.
 
It becomes harder to teach what we believe first because we don’t form our own faith. Second because people are not accepting any teaching from anyone. Even the Bible is doubted as a source of authority to determine the will of God. Even if we accept it as authority from God culture is often applied to it to eliminate the relevance of what it says for our life. Until we come to our own faith we will be swimming in a sea of opinions. We can base our faith on what the Bible says and not treat other opinions with the same importance. We can learn things from others, but we accept scripture above all other sources.
 
God’s plan for reaching the world is that we be a witness. We can’t physically see Jesus today, but we can tell what we believe. That means we work through all the opinions and misinformation to know and decide what we believe. That means we are willing to tell what we believe. Even if our faith is not accepted by everyone it gives them a reason to believe. It is another voice in the middle of so many opinions that speaks faith into this world.
 
Terry
Friday, February 5, 2021

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It Is in the Details

Jesus makes it simple when he asks us to do things. When he called his disciples he simply said, “Follow me”. The difficulty was the things going on in the individuals lives. Peter and his partners had a boat full of fish. They had a business to run with their father and other workers. What it would take to transfer the workload and the schedules would take a lot. Matthew was at work in his tax office when he was called. He had clients he would need to settle accounts. He was not helping file their taxes like we do today, but he was charging them to tax and collecting it. Who would take over? Were the books in shape so someone else would know what to charge? Did he have to find his own replacement?
 
When it says they left everything and followed him that was impressive. Jesus did not tell them what to do in order to follow him. He gave the invitation and then they had to figure out their life. The money, schedules, business, family, children, habits, hobbies and other things that take up the normal flow of life would all be interrupted. Sabbath was a day off for them, but Sunday began their week of work. Today we are left with the same challenge. Jesus calls us to follow, but he leaves the details of how to deal with the other parts of life to us. It is in those details that many of us either figure out a way to deal with life or give up on following.
 
We don’t disagree on what we are to do. We are to love God. We are to follow Jesus. We are to love our neighbor. The reason is it important to involve other people in our Christian life is to find the how we are to deal with life in following Jesus. Church is formed to make the expression of faith practical in loving God and others. We worship, but again we are left to figure out how we connect with God in worship. It is the details that can make or break our Christian life. It won’t be because of a sudden change in belief, but the details of daily life become more difficult.
 
We read of radical changes in the lives of the Christians. They walked away from businesses and followed Jesus. They came and stayed with Jesus when they had families and responsibilities at home. They used their homes and families to be involved in the work of God together. They dealt with threats the same way. Jesus answer to threats was there have been other people of faith who have done the same things. As we look at our present threats and difficulties may we all have the same faith. May we encourage each other in how to work out the details of following and loving Jesus.
 
Terry
Friday, January 29, 2021
 

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Rebellion Against Authority

There comes a time when all of us will rebel against authority. We think of the teenager with a purple mohawk with his jeans ripped and his shirt on backward. That has become such a normal sign of rebellion that we don’t even notice anymore. We recognize it in the two-year-old that stamps their foot and says no they don’t want to go. Rebellion seems almost as natural as breathing to some people. Not matter what anyone says they are going to disagree and claim there is something they don’t like.
 
How does it happen that some people are happy with everything and some are not? Some find fault with everything and feel like they are being mistreated. Some are happy and make the best of it. We see it in time of extreme poverty or loss that an attitude of thankfulness is over everything. They are thankful to all be alive. Their house burned or the plane crashed but they are lucky to be alive.
 
Authority is given for a reason. The first assumption is God has all authority. We understand that because God created everything. We belong to the one who created us. Jesus claims to have all authority after his resurrection because of this encounter with Satan. He has overcome all things, even death, and now has authority over all things. He makes a covenant with us and gives us his life as an example to follow. Some of his life was in rebellion to the rulers of his time for distorting the intent of the Law. Some of his teaching was to establish a way we could be more like God.
 
Even recognizing God’s authority as creator over everything we know we should obey him, but we just don’t feel like it. We don’t want to. We can’t get our feelings to fall in line with our logic and so we rebel and do what we want. Rebellion against God is called sin. Sometimes we are like the two-year-old stamping our foot and saying, “But I want to!”  Sometimes we can recognize and accept the authority of God and realize how much better life will be later, if we just take his authority for our life and do what he wants now. That may mean we rebel against the sinful world and adopt the authority of Christ. If rebellion is part of life, we should make sure we rebel against evil and live for what is good.
 
Terry
Friday, January 22, 2021

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God’s Mission

God wants a relationship with us. A relationship means the people involved in that relationship must be compatible. They will hold the same values and goals to make the relationship work well. God is holy and good. God is love and always responds in love. God is also just and must have justice fulfilled. Who God is determines the nature of the relationship. We will have a relationship based on love and goodness. We then, must also be people who are loving and holy.
 
We are not always good, and we make many mistakes. We do things that are not loving and we sin. God has a way for us to be forgiven of our sin through Jesus sacrifice on the cross. Jesus is the sacrifice for our sin when we form a covenant with God. When we are baptized into Christ, he takes away all our sins and gives us the Holy Spirit to help with our attitude and behavior. We do not automatically become perfect and holy in our actions. We still struggle with our thinking and actions to be holy like God. The closer we are to being like God the better our relationship can be. When we are more like the world, we make God our enemy. (James 4:3,4) When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our life we develop the fruit of the Spirit that is like God. We find the love, joy and peace that comes from the father.
 
Everything else is to protect, develop and guide that relationship. Jesus established his kingdom to be the king of all the people who are in this holy relationship with God. This kingdom describes all the people of God in every time and age. Today we understand that the church is the way the kingdom of God is shown on earth today. We draw more people into the church so that they might have this relationship with God. We teach and explain what it means to follow Jesus since he is the example of what it means to follow God while on this earth. We not only help people make a covenant with God, but we also help in developing the maturity necessary for a full relationship with God.
 
The beginning of our relationship with God is about the salvation and forgiveness of sins. It is often referred to as a birth. We know that the relationship with a baby is limited. We watch our children develop and grow until we are able to have a relationship with them as adults. We go through awkward teen years where they develop their own independence and grow into mature adults. We go through awkward years as a Christian when we question why we need the church, the holy Spirit or a relationship with God. We question the Bible, the leaders, and the way people around us treat us. We eventually learn to use the things God has set up to build our relationship with God. The relationship with God is our goal. Helping others build their relationship with God is our mission.
 
Terry
Friday, January 15, 2021

 


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