Having One of Those Days

Have you ever had one of those days, maybe a string of days when you are frustrated and discouraged with your walk with the Lord? You hate to admit to even thinking it, but there are those days when you question your faith, you wonder, “Where is God?” Life circumstances, pain, and disappointments leave you asking, “Where are You, God?

David must have been having one of those days in Psalms 42 . . . he said, “My tears have been my food day and night” (Psa 42:3). In verse six he declared, “My soul is downcast within me.” This Psalm tells us that people around David were mocking his faith, his God, asking “Where is your God?” David said, “My foes taunt me all daylong” (Psa 42:10). The persecution of his soul even affected him physically. He described his pain as waves and breakers sweeping over him; his bones even hurt (Psa 42:10).

Well . . . if David can have those kind of days, I guess I can expect the enemy of my soul to tempt and torment me as well. David gives us the solution in verse one. David marks the beginning of climbing out of the spiritual doldrums. He longs, even pants, as a deer after water, his soul also longs after the Lord. The beginning place, back to spiritual vitality, begins with the Lord (Psa 42:1).

In Psalm 42:4, David declares the importance of going to the house of God. Within the “sanctuary” of His house we can enjoy worship, participate in prayer, discover encouragement, and find support.

Two times (Psalm 42:5 & Psalm 42:7) we find another nugget that David gives us. David talks to himself! “Why so downcast oh my soul?”(KJV) It is as if David is giving himself a quick kick in the seat of his pants, a spiritual swat . . . “Snap out of it, David,” he says, “Put your hope in God!” Then, the friend of God says with determination . . . in midst of turmoil, while having a bad day, week, or month, “Yet, I will praise Him, my Saviour and my God” (Psa 42;11).

Let’s take a cue from David . . . pant after, long for our Savior’s care. His words, determine to fellowship in the house of God, and give yourself a spiritual pep talk . . . He will get us through the storms of life, the doldrums of our faith. He will never leave us! Bless His Holy Name!

~Pastor Rod

Finding Faith in the Dark

“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”’ (John 20:29).

Lately, I have been walking through what I am going to call, a spiritual growth spurt. This spiritual growth spurt consisted of a darkness and a very tight, narrow passage. This squeezing came with a lot of pain. I always thought that faith was taking steps consistently forward to accomplish what God would have for us. What is this? I was going backward and not forward. Did I miss something? I felt many times that I wanted to curl up into a fetal position and just weep. I had very little courage to move forward. I wanted out of this situation fast.

That narrow passage acted like an extrusion process which forces materials through a die or mold, and it is comes out a different shape. That dark, narrow, tight passage was there for a reason. It was to force me through that perfect mold and to allow me to come out cleaner with a new perspective on the other side, which would involve forgiveness.

My pain came from my own sin of unforgiveness which I was holding on to pretty tightly. I am currently finding out that faith is at its best in the darkness. God has me right where I am supposed to be at this time, so I need to take courage and move on with the extrusion process. This is all part of God’s purpose.

I am choosing faith in God’s wisdom that He loves me enough to squeeze that things out of me.


It Is Well With My Soul

“Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul.”
(Horatio Spafford, It Is Well With My Soul)
It was after his son died, a fire burned up his fortune, and his two daughters died in a shipwreck, that Spafford penned the above words. He wrote the hymn as he approached the area in the ocean where his children had drowned.
I don’t know about you, but that blows my mind. I think that if I was looking into ocean’s depths where my children had taken their last breath, the last thing I would be able to say is, ‘‘It is well with my soul.” I’m 100% certain that this man wasn’t happy. I know that he wasn’t smiling, or laughing when he wrote those words. How can he possibly I have found peace at a time like that?
Colossians 3:15 says,
“ …let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…”
Letting the peace of Jesus lead our hearts is easier said than done, but it’s not unreachable. The reason that Spafford could say, “It is well with my soul” is because it WAS well with his soul. Would he have preferred that circumstances were different? Absolutely! However,  somehow he was still able to say, “It is well with my soul.”
My favorite part of Spafford’s hymn is verse one. “When peace, like a river attendeth my way. When sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well It is well with my soul. ” I love the imagery, but what I really love about it is the coexistence of peace and sorrow. It’s easy for me to resign my pursuit for peace when difficulty comes. I can make an excuse for myself to wallow in a puddle of pity when times are hard. However, that kind of attitude and response is not biblical. There is a peace that surpasses all reason, and it can only be found in Jesus.
To pursue peace means to pursue Jesus. My challenge to us today is that we never let the sea billows of sorrow toss us too far from knowing the peace of Christ. Whatever our lot, may we always be able to say, “It is well with my soul.”

Peace Be Still

It always amazes me how fast January goes by. One day we are celebrating the new year, and the next Punxatawney Phil is looking for his shadow. February can be a strange month weather wise. I never put much stock in the furry rodent’s predictions but, the up and down weather can be a trial. February can be cold, stormy, icy, warm, flirtatious, and down right horrible! What are you gonna do?

Tuesday and Wednesday evening during our Bible study . . . hey here’s an idea, if you don’t normally attend our Bible study, try it, I know you’ll like it. This past Wednesday we talked about Jesus calming the storm in Luke chapter eight. A furious storm descended upon Jesus and His disciples as they crossed the Sea of Galilee. This storm that was attempting to sink the boat can be likened to the storms of life . . . the storms of February that would try to sink us. The enemy stirs up those storms in order to frustrate, discourage, even destroy us. You may be experiencing a storm this morning. Be assured Jesus is with you, He cares, and He can speak to that storm, “Peace be still,” just as He did in Luke chapter eight.

Let February blast us with its worst . . . let the enemy throw what feeble attempts he may have at us . . . our God is greater, more than able to take the teeth out of the storms of life. At the end of the day we can rest assured in “Peace, Be Still.”

~Pastor Rod

What Is Your Mountain?

Every year, the first two weeks in January are a little hard for me. As an accountant, the first four months are consumed with properly recording and concluding what happened financially in 2016 so everyone can file their income taxes and close and report on 2016. At the same time new projections are needed because the calendar says we are already four months into 2017.

What an intersection of information on the front end of each year which I look at with a grimacing face! Like a runner, waiting for the gun to start the race, I get apprehensive about the pace and the time demands that will be needed to finish the work before each deadline.

Something that I don’t want to face turns into a mountain of concern. I realize that each one of us has mountains or obstacles that are as big or bigger than the one I spoke of. What I want to present to you is a united answer to all those mountains out there that have been pushed up by struggles with things like health, financial, and relational frustrations.

God is like a best friend who already knows our struggles and our weaknesses. So you do not have to inform Him about what is going on within your thoughts because He already is aware and understands. However, we are all given a choice to die to our human nature and surrender our hearts to Christ. Out of obedience we must include Christ in our lives through daily prayer and reading the Scripture.

After learning about God’s promises through reading, and your own life experiences, you begin to start to lean on His ways. Even if you have to scale that mountain, God can fill you with strength, determination and a desire to climb to new heights. I have found that if you do take steps to scale that mountain, that with God’s help and a second look, the height won’t seem so unsurmountable.

Remember to pick up some memory stones along the way to place a marker at the top of your mountain. Then you can declare the Lord’s goodness and the awe of a deeper relationship that you have developed along the way.


Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year! Only three hundred and fifty-more shopping days till Christmas, or three hundred and sixty-four days till my wife, Susan’s birthday . . . my, how the time flies! Don’t laugh. We will be putting the Christmas decorations back up before we know it.

l don’t think anyone looks at 2017 and thinks, “I want this year to be a complete failure.” ‘‘I don’t want anything to go right or work out.” That is just plain silly. We want to have a good year. We want the things we put our hand to to work out well. We want success, happiness, and smooth sailing this year. Although reality tells us we will have our share of ups and downs, we hope for a lot more “ups” than “downs”.

As we approach this new year, as with so many endeavors, our foundation is key. Looking forward, planning and getting started with 2017 means looking to our spiritual foundation. If we lay the ground work . . . seek first the Kingdom of God . . . that solid foundation will go a long way in securing our success and happiness throughout the year. Also, when these difficult times do come upon us, we can stand strong because we have built upon the Rock, Christ Jesus.

Don’t neglect that foundation, my friend, Look to the word, spend time in prayer, do not forsake the gathering together with fellow Christians, and make this year a year of sharing your faith with others.

I look forward to what Jesus has in store for us the next three hundred and sixty-five days. I wonder. . . what amazing things He will do . . .?

Happy New Year, Church!

Remembering 9-11

29 Apr 2012, New York City, New York State, USA --- United States, New York, Manhattan, 9/11 Memorial designed by Israeli architect Michael Arad involving a forest of trees around two bodies of water with two large Square holes in their center at the exact spot where the formers towers stood --- Image by © Bertrand Rieger/Hemis/Corbis

29 Apr 2012, New York City, New York State, USA — United States, New York, Manhattan, 9/11 Memorial designed by Israeli architect Michael Arad involving a forest of trees around two bodies of water with two large Square holes in their center at the exact spot where the formers towers stood — Image by © Bertrand Rieger/Hemis/Corbis

Last month while our youth were on a mission’s trip to N.Y.C., we had an opportunity to visit Ground Zero, those iconic several blocks where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center stood. The Freedom Tower that reached toward heaven, the park, 9-11 Memorial, and reflecting pools all honored those lost during the chaos that followed the attacks that fateful day in September 2001.

9-11-ground-zero-i-beam-crossSusan and I visited Ground Zero just a few months after the towers fell. I remember walking up to the construction fence that kept people away from the carnage of twisted metal and busted brick and concrete. There was a hush that covered the area, and even though there were hundreds of people standing along the fence, only whispers, sobs and muted prayers could be heard. I remember looking at a piece of steel that rose up out of the rubble, it looked like a cross and someone had put an American flag on it. The thought struck me. With Jesus’ help America will get through this. America will get through this!

Today marks the 15″‘ anniversary of that sad day when the planes flown by terrorists flew into the World Trade Center buildings. America was forever changed, like Pearl Harbor, like Columbine, like Sandy Hook, like so many tragic events, both local and national, tragic times shape who we are.

The "Tribute in Light" memorial is in remembrance of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The two towers of light are composed of two banks of high wattage spotlights that point straight up from a lot next to Ground Zero. This photo was taken from Liberty State Park, N.J., Sept. 11, the five-year anniversary of 9/11. (U.S. Air Force photo/Denise Gould)

The “Tribute in Light” memorial is in remembrance of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The two towers of light are composed of two banks of high wattage spotlights that point straight up from a lot next to Ground Zero. This photo was taken from Liberty State Park, N.J., Sept. 11, the five-year anniversary of 9/11. (U.S. Air Force photo/Denise Gould)

Standing beside the reflecting pool, watching the water pour down into the hole that is the footprint of one of the Trade Center’s Towers, l traced a name that was imprinted on the top of the low wall with my finger, as I did I thought, “Through it all, Jesus you are still Lord, and You have promised to work in us a great work as we trust you during the difficult times of struggle.”

As we remember, as we look back, we do so with an eye on the future and remember Jesus will never, never, leave us nor forsake us!

God Bless America and God Bless Us All!

Facing the Sonshine

imageHelen Keller (who we all know was blind) once said, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” I’d like to say this: Keep your face to the SONSHINE and your shadows won’t seem so dark. How often do we fret over something that never comes to pass? How many times does something throw us for a loop and we didn’t even see it coming?

Have you noticed that plants lean toward the sunshine? And you have to turn the flowerpot often to create strong straight stems? So let’s think of it this way: The sunshine to the plant is as God’s love is to us. We need to lean toward Him to hear His Words. We need to lean toward Him so we can continually reflect His goodness and truth. We need to lean toward Him to stand upright!

Sometimes when we are with someone who is depressed and sad we need to touch their shoulder and say a prayer out loud. Even just a couple sentences could be enough to reflect God’s love. You may never know the difference you made in that person’s life, but it is our responsibility to reflect His love!

“But you are a chosen people, royal priests, a holy nation, a people for God ’s own possession. You were chosen to tell about the wonderful acts of God, who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9 NCV).

Salvation from sin means moving from spiritual darkness to God’s light! I pray that we will always remember to lean into His light regardless of how dark our world may seem.

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing, if we don’t give up” (Gal. 6:9).


God Means It For Good

image“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20).

Sometimes our circumstances stink. It’s a

fact of life. Joseph could probably relate to that. This is a guy whose life went from bad to worse. He was thrown into a pit by his brothers, sold into slavery, accused of attempted rape, and thrown into prison. This kid’s life seemed pretty bad. Throughout this whole ordeal, Joseph could have easily just given up on life, but God had a purpose for Joseph through all of it. Because he was sold into slavery in Egypt, he was able to help the people prepare for a great famine that would have killed a lot of people.

Sometimes, you do not know why your life is going the way that it is, but you can rest assured that God does have a plan and He will use these experiences to help mold you for a specific purpose. You may not always see it, but God is working.

I think Romans 8:28 says it best: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” This is the reassurance that we need sometimes. No matter how bad things may get, we can be sure that God is working this stuff together for good.


When God Asks Questions

I was reading Job, and in reading Job, I read about his friends giving him advice as to why all these sufferings were brought upon him. I read Job’s response to the accusation of sin. I realized by chapter 38 that the entire time I had been reading the book of Job, I was waiting for chapter 38, “God answers Job”. I was desperately seeking God’s words, anticipating His words to Job. Since this was my first time through Job, I didn’t know what to expect.

Excited to read chapter 38, God responds: Job 38:3 “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall question me.” Wow! I started to tremble as I put myself in Job’s place. God’s not beginning with advice, He’s asking questions.

Pondering this verse of Scripture, I asked myself some questions? During my storm of life, would I be ready to answer God’s questions? Would I like what I hear? Do I really want to hear the truth?

God had Job’s best interest at heart. He had to get Job to recognize and submit to His power and sovereignty. Then, Job would be able to hear what God was really saying to him.

Sometimes God has to get our attention, so we hear and listen to His words. Our suffering’s cause is to trust Him for who He is, not what He does. Our answers to difficulties may unfold over the course of life and not at the moment we desire. Tough, I know, in this world of NOW!

So, let’s trust our all-powerful God with our unanswered questions. We can never be separated from His love when He is our foundation Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.”

Have a Nice Day!