A Time For Everything

When Solomon looked for meaning in life, he recognized the rhythm of life that comes from God. (Eccl. 3:1-15) The season for Arizona is hot and hotter. It may seem like nothing changes except the degree of hot but if we look closer, we can see the time of color change, when plants bloom and other patterns. We are used to seasons and we recognize the weather. Can we recognize the seasons of life and appreciate those?
 
There is nothing that stays but we are constantly moving and being right for the time. We gather and collect because of things we need. Later we wish we could give our collections to someone who would appreciate them. It isn’t a mistake to collect them because that was the season. The next season is different, and we don’t need them as much. This could be concerning because we would like to know what is best and be able to just do that and be done with everything. It doesn’t seem to work that way.
 
There are seasons in our spiritual life as well. The Bible describes a new Christian as a new birth with the expectation that growth will occur. We are encouraged to be careful with new Christians because they are more sensitive to the new development. By the time we have been a Christian awhile we are the ones to be careful with others and we should have developed a greater faith. We don’t need someone to care for us because we have developed strength to stand on our own. It is a different season than when we started. We don’t get the same care and sensitivity as when we first because a Christian. We need to recognize the season and learn to adjust our expectations.
 
God can use people of greater maturity and experience, but it will not be in the same way. Seasons change and God has other things for them to do. We always seem to be just a little behind where we need to be. It is the growing edge of what God calls us to be. The best we can do is recognize it is his design and he wants it that way. It keeps us from getting bored and thinking we know it all.
 
Terry
Friday, June 25, 2021

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We Call Him Father

How do we explain God? God is a Spirit. God is creator. God is love. Jesus taught about the relationship with God as if God was father. He compared himself to a son of God since he was born on earth. There is prophecy of a child being born but Jesus was not addressed as the son of God until he is born on earth. It is in that relationship of being born on earth that Jesus would make his identity known. Two gospels record the details of his birth in a way that is very memorable. We even recognize the birth of Jesus as being a national holiday for all of us. The simple explanation of our relationship with someone so beyond our comprehension is that Jesus calls him father.  
 
Abraham is chosen by God as a man of faith to bring several promises to his children. One of those promises included a blessing by one of his children on all people in the earth. It was not his immediate child but many generations later a child from him would bless all people. They saw themselves as children of Abraham and so the blessings and promises of God came to all of them. It also set up the idea that they were not just children of Abraham but also children of God. The official name was after Abraham’s grandson when Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, and they officially became the children of Israel.
 
For those of us who are not related to Abraham biologically, we are still considered children of Abraham when we have faith like Abraham. We can share in the promises and find other blessings from God when we have faith. God has found a way to explain his relationship with us. We have this close personal relationship not just as a technical demand from the almighty force of heaven but as God drawing near to us on very human terms.
 
We celebrate Father’s Day to recognize the relationship we can have with our father on earth. It comes from birth and it includes a history as a child of growing up to become a father. It is all those years of adventure and activity that make up the relationship. We are born again in Jesus to make a relationship with God our Father. How can we have two fathers? We recognize the birth we go through to a new life with all the excitement, care, love, and protection of a father. It is one of the closest relationships we will ever experience.
 
Terry
Friday, June 18, 2021

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Terry Singleton Commemoration Video

Just in case you missed it, here is a  video of the commemoration of Terry Singleton recorded on May 6, 2021.
 
 


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Faithful

One of the most important things God wants is for us to be faithful. It is important that we have become a Christians by repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Spirit and becoming part of the church, but what God wants from there is for us to be faithful. Faithful means we are following the commitments we made with God to accept his standard of behavior. We are not like the people of the world who follow their wants and selfish desires. We are also not like the good people of the world who believe in social causes, the promotion of mankind and the protection of the earth. We believe in God and what he is still doing in this world. We follow him not as any other cause, but as the center of purpose and meaning in life.
 
Faithful means we have first made a commitment. We cannot be faithful to something where there are no promises, no bonds and no involvement. The commitment must be personal and not just joining a meeting once in awhile. Our relationship with Christ has affected us deeply. This relationship cost Jesus his life but it cost our life also. We died to ourselves, and we chose to follow Jesus and his example. When we follow Jesus, many other things are eliminated. They are a conflict of interest with our life in God.
 
We can be faithful to an exercise routine or to a way of eating we have chosen. That is faithful to things and not to people. When we are faithful to people, we build a relationship. Faithful is a way of loving a person in a deeper way. We choose them over other interests. We gain the best things when we deepen a relationship by being faithful to it. We extend over time and experiences when we are faithful for years. Being faithful to God is a relationship that just gets deeper with every moment of praise and service to him.
 
We realize the examples of faithfulness when we read of incredible stories in scripture. How did they come to believe in God and trust him that much? They made a choice that God was going to be first and they would let their actions and attitude reflect that. They were faithful when the circumstances changed. They were faithful in times of suffering because nothing in this world would change their commitment to their God. We are amazed when people can love like that. We are almost jealous of the relationship they have with God and how they have found such favor with him. The Psalms David writes are amazing in his trust in God and yet we can see every other emotion of David as he writes about God. He writes down the song in heart that becomes the music of his life. The best thing is that we can have that also. God is like that with David and everyone who puts God first in their life.
 
Terry
Friday, June 11, 2021
 

 


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Milestones & Markers

We have lots of events that are milestones to mark the time. Last week was High School graduation for a lot of people. It is a major accomplishment and leads to more opportunities in life. There are a lot of those times when we have the opportunity for a milestone. Some will happen just with the passing of time. Some will happen because we intentionally did something to mark the time. It usually takes a plan and effort to make the milestone.
 
We recognize different times and people in the Bible as they interacted with God and each other. They lived under different laws and covenants, and we can see the times of change that happened. The One constant is there were still people of faith in all those times. They reacted to what God was doing at the time and took on special tasks for God. It must have been a milestone for Noah to finish building the ark and have it ready. There wasn’t much time before the animals came and the rain started. They were in the ark for just over a year and then next milestone is to build a new life outside the ark. And then grand kids and people and they next project needed to be done.
 
There will always be another milestone that comes along, we are never at the last one. The next person, the next crisis, the next problem or blessing always leads us forward. So we are not trying to just get one milestone finished, we are just finishing the next one along the way. It is what makes life exciting. We are never at the final end, there is always more to come and we have a real expectation in Christ that it is going to be good.
 
Therefore, we reach to embrace the next thing that God wants. Paul wrote in Philippians 3 about straining forward to what lies ahead and as he listened to the upward call of God in Jesus. (Phil. 3:13,14) There is always something more. It is one of the great blessings of God that we can never reach the end of him. We never reach the end of worship or learning about what God has done and is doing around us now. What a joy it is to look back at some of the milestones, but also to realize there are so many more still to discover.    
 
Terry
Friday, June 4, 2021

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Graduation Recognition

Graduation is a time of recognition that a certain level of progress has been reached. We usually start with walking as a level of progress. No awards are given at that time, but the parents are very proud and will give a demonstration to anyone who is interested. It means there are people who will cheer us on through every stage of life. It begins very early. We realize there are many people behind us, but there are also expectations. We are given time to learn but they do expect us to walk. It is this type of learning and expectation that will continue all our life. Sometimes they will be expecting us to learn faster. Most of the time they will be surprised by how fast we are able to learn. Sometimes we will even learn things they don’t know. They are amazed at what we have been able to accomplish.
 
There are times when we graduate just because we got older. We become a teenager or a senior based entirely on age. We have lived long enough to go from one category to another. There are expectations that we will have learned things along the way. We use the phrase, “Older and wiser” but those don’t always go together. We should learn enough to be wiser but sometimes we are just grouchy. Old and grouchy is not a graduation milestone to be celebrated.
 
Sometimes our progress is about performance. First, we learn to ride a bike. Then we learn to ride a bike and not fall off the sidewalk or run into things. Then we learn to ride a bike for ten miles.  Then we learn to ride a bike down a mountain. When we think of God our performance is usually centered around worship or teaching. We learn to sing to God and we do it to inspire others. We are considered faithful primarily because of our involvement with the church. It is a milestone when others can see your faith demonstrated.
 
There is an unseen graduation with God. We recognize the spiritual transformation that takes place inside of us. We began with a new birth and sins forgiven but it still took us awhile to overcome the guilt of the past. We learn information as we study our bible and listen to others teach about their understanding and experiences. We learn about the Holy Spirit and then we begin to use the Holy Spirit as our guide and comforter. We feel good about reaching out to others who struggle with sin or hardships in their life. We have wisdom and insight from scripture and our prayer life deepens as our relationship with God continues to grow.
 
Terry
Friday, May 28, 2021
 

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Great People

What stands in the way of us being great people? We can usually point to several reasons why we would not be considered a great person. If people ask us if we are great, most people will say no. Some say yes, but they don’t really mean it. It may depend on the definition of great and who the audience is. To our grandchildren we may be great because we just bought them ice cream but to our boss not so much. There are lots of ways we can measure greatness. We can call someone great because of fame, wealth, ability, popularity or work. We produce something great; we manage something great, we hit a ball perfectly, or we have great relationship. There are so many ways to measure greatness, surely there is some way that can be considered great.
 
We read of the disciples of Jesus arguing about who was the greatest. We don’t exactly what they thought made one greater than another, but we know they were comparing and competing. Jesus thinks it is important enough to step in and correct their view of themselves. He tells them the greatest will be their servant. That could help define who was greatest but that usually ends the discussion. We don’t want to be considered great because of our service.
 
There is one opinion that matters more than all the others. Who are great people to God?  Jesus taught that great people are servants. They are the ones that God finds already working even before they have been assigned the task. They do it because God needs it. God’s standard is to compare us to Jesus. We realize what greatness is when we look at Jesus. It isn’t what he does with a ball but the truth that he lives that makes him great.
 
We can also feel good about ourselves when we look at how God has taken care of us. God takes away our sin and mistakes and makes us holy before him. God wants us to share his glory which is great on any level. God takes away the argument about who is the greatest by also giving us the understanding that he has made us great. We are redeemed and forgiven and conformed to the image of Jesus. We don’t argue about greatness, we worship about the greatness of God and how he has allowed us to share in his glory. God makes us great people.
 
Terry
Friday, May 21, 2021

 


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The Power of Choosing Well

God gives to all people, the evil and the good. He sends rain and sun on both the evil and the good. It is our response to God that makes the difference and not whether we are evil or good. If a person did what was evil before God, there was a punishment at some point. It may not have been immediate but there were consequences. If the evil person turned his heart toward God by repenting and following what God said, then God would extend grace to them. They would no longer be evil but they would be forgiven. They are not just forgiven of sin but they have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus and everything about them has been cleansed. They are no longer considered evil but now they are holy before God.
 
There are a lot of promises that are based on faithfulness rather than God being good to everyone.  God asked for people to keep his laws and statues and there would be blessings that would follow. All of the spiritual blessings were available not because we earned them but because they were a gift from God. When they followed God’s word and instructions, they would receive the gifts from God. It was their choice to follow or not. It is their choice to receive a blessing or not because they follow what God said.  
 
It is always difficult to realize that our actions have both consequences and benefits. We choose which of those we want to happen by the way we respond. Today people tend to think in terms of rights and privileges that are owed to them. A country or organization might recognize rights for people who belong to that country or organization but that is not creation wide. God gives privileges and gifts to those who are faithful and obedient to him. He does not give those same gifts and privileges to all creation. Leaves fall. Snow melts. Time erodes the surface of the earth. Animals live in the wild without privilege or blessing as a choice.
 
We are at that unique place where see good and bad and choose the good. We can choose to follow God,  make a covenant with him and he extends grace and salvation as a gift. When we are faithful to God we find more blessings occur. We pray and God answers in ways we never dreamed possible. It is not our physical concerns but also our spirit that God is able to bless. He takes us from this physical world to a better place with him. We can only imagine the glory of God and the blessing of being with him. It is a long way from being selfish and controlled by evil to the glory of God. All we do is make the right choice.
 
Terry
Friday, May 14, 2021

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Spiritual Development

What is it that causes us to grow and develop? When we are young it is our parents. They feed us and make sure we have what we need to grow up. They make marks on the door jam and write our age to show our progress. They buy us clothes every time we outgrow the old ones and they send us to school to learn. They teach us how to live at home and work together as a family. They teach us to not fight with our sister. They are responsible for our development from being a baby all the way till we are grown up and able to be out on our own. Some days are easy and we laugh a lot. Some days are harder but there are important lessons we need to learn in order to do well.
 
When we get out on our own we are not perfect in our development. We will encounter people who did not grow up so well and had a much harder time. We don’t always agree with people and sometimes they convince us that we are not seeing the problem correctly. We change our opinion or our view of certain events or topics. We are constantly bombarded by other opinions. Everyone thinks they are right and they have a great deal to say about why they are right. We learned to listen and sort through what we think and reach our own conclusions. We don’t have to believe what someone else says just because they say it.
 
This coming to our own conclusion is especially true when it comes to faith in Jesus and our relationship with God. There are lots of religious opinions. We know that the Bible is the word of God so at least we have one way of knowing what is right and true. People do see it in different ways but we know that what the Bible says is true. We are able to read it and form out opinion. We can talk with other people and get their opinion. They can explain exactly why they believe what they do when we are reading the exact same words. Often there are things we didn’t notice before. Some detail that makes all the difference.
 
It is in this encounter with others that we grow in our faith and spiritual maturity. Our parents can’t tell us what is right anymore. We have to come to our own faith. Church becomes especially important and the people we meet there will challenge and help us grow spiritually. We are also able to teach and help others grow as we talk with them about their growth. There are no marks on the wall, but we may remember times when something finally made sense. A person who opens the door for us to see more. We continue to study and learn to realize a closer relationship with God.
 
Terry
Friday, April 30, 2021

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Finding a Church Home

When they try to sell a house, they take out the personal things in the house. No personal portraits on the walls or children’s coloring pictures on the fridge. They are staging the house so it will sell quickly. It is odd that everything that makes it look like someone lives there is taken away. No mess on the dresser, no extra shoes or things left in the corners and even some of the crowded furniture is taken away. The house needs to have furniture but not look like someone lives there. We imagine our house will look like that after we move in. Of course, we will have much more mess to move in, but it is nice to imagine.
 
When we look for a savior, we look for someone who will completely save us from every situation. Someone who would take away all of our sins and overlook all our faults. We look for someone who can accept us as better than we really are. We want them to think of us a holy and righteous and not find any fault with us. While forgiveness is complete with Jesus, we often don’t forgive ourselves. We want to be forgiven but we also would like for him to overlook a few things as well. We want him to accept us and love us unconditionally, but we often feel like Jesus is more like company than someone that feels like home.
 
When we look for a church, we want one that has everything together. We want one that is the right size. The right size is determined by the size of the church when we were growing up. People wanting a big church generally grew up in a bigger church. We pick by what it has to offer us. We can be comfortable there and we like the surroundings. We want people to treat us right and be friendly to us. We want to belong and be able to worship in a place that feels like home.
 
How would Jesus choose a church? Would he pick one that feels like home or the one that needs him most? Would he want to be comfortable or needed? Would it be one that is satisfied with where it is or one that sees a great need to move forward? The church that feels most like him is the one where we have worked, been involved and we are still needed. We don’t need a church with good staging so it looks like no one lives there. We need a savior where we can be honest about our sin and our forgiveness. We are looking for a church with need, mess and enough vision and mission for us to do something about it. It will feel like home soon enough.
 
Terry
Friday, April 23, 2021

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