Flash In The Pan

Do you have a “favorite place” you go to get away? I’m not really talking about a vacation spot, but more of a place where you can get a few hours to be alone to pray, write, think, or read.

I’m not a religious person, but I am religious about getting away one day a month. I find this day to pray and experience solitude and quiet, is essential to do what God has called me to do. There are a few places I go to do this, but without a doubt, one of my favorites is Dallas. Oh no, not THAT Dallas, the Dallas of the NFL’s Cowboys or the famous grassy knoll (that would take some kind of extravagant budget wouldn’t it?).  No, I’m talking about Dallas, Colorado. You say you’re not familiar with Dallas, Colorado? If you live in western Colorado, I can guarantee, you know where Dallas is, you just don’t know it.

Dallas Colorado sits about 3 miles north of Ridgeway along Highway 550 – or, I should say, it did sit there until it’s inhabitants got up and left. Dallas became a town in the 1880’s. The earliest residents were miners who came to pan for gold. Their “tent city” soon grew and businesses were established.

By 1887 however, panning for gold no longer held any promise for Dallas. But the coming of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad rekindled hope in a prosperous future. The economy changed overnight when the line from Montrose to Ouray was completed, bringing passengers and freight to Dallas.

Screenshot 2018-09-06 11.28.17
Main Street – Dallas, CO

In 1888, just when it seemed Dallas was destined to become a bustling little city, a fire swept through the town, leveling the business district. Not to be discouraged for long, the businessmen quickly rebuilt their town.

One year later, it was learned that a new railroad, the Rio Grande South, planned construction from either Dallas or Ridgeway around the mountains to Telluride & Durango. To the despair of the Dallas businessmen, Ridgeway was chosen to be the starting point of the railroad. Early in 1890, the businessmen of Dallas picked up and literally moved their buildings, one by one, south to Ridgeway. This included hotels, restaurants, and other prominent buildings. Today, Dallas is just a spot in the road alongside the Uncompaghre River – one of my favorite places to walk and talk with God.

Dallas Creek Autumn

I bet you’ve heard the term; “flash in the pan”, but do you know where it came from?

Wictionary defines “flash in the pan” as any ineffectual, short, spasmodic effort that dies in the attempt, such as an explosion of priming in the lockpan of a gun while the gun itself does not go off.

Don’t miss it; “any ineffectual, short, spasmodic effort that dies…”.

I, for one, am selfishly thankful that Dallas was just a “flash-in-the-pan” town. In all, Dallas, Colorado hung around for no more than 10 years. As it turns out, towns aren’t the only “flash in the pan” things in life.

Have you ever known a “flash in the pan” person? I have…in fact, I’ve known more than I can count. It’s not uncommon for someone to go out of their way to tell me how much they absolutely love our church body and what we stand for, and that they can’t wait to get involved. Nevertheless, a couple weeks or months later they’ve disappeared, never to be seen again.

I don’t have to go all the way back to the 1880’s to recall one of my most vivid “flash in the pan” experiences with a person. I was serving in Napa, California as a youth pastor some 30 years ago when a fairly young (early 30’s), energetic guy stepped into my office one day and told me everything we needed to do differently in our youth ministry in order to attract a crowd. He quickly jumped in the middle of everything and undoubtedly, brought a lot of excitement to each and every one of our gatherings – for about 2 months. Then – you guessed it – as quickly as he came, he left.  Never to be seen again.

Do you remember New Coke? New Coke was the unofficial name for the reformulation of Coca-Cola introduced in April 1985 by the Coca-Cola Company to replace the original formula of its original soft drink Coca-Cola (also called Coke).

4d8fac7a-b6a0-4941-94f0-8b91c208b8f2

However, the American public’s reaction to the change was negative, even hostile, and the “New Coke” was considered a major failure. The company reintroduced Coke’s original formula within three months of New Coke’s debut, rebranded as “Coca-Cola Classic“. New Coke is the perfect example of a “flash in the pan” idea.

The world is filled with “flash in the pan” ideas, people, and places. Unfortunately, the Church has her fill of these kind of people as well. They’re like the seeds thrown on the hard soil and plucked up immediately by hungry birds. They disappear as quickly as they came.

Aren’t you glad our God is no “flash in the pan” God? The Psalmist accurately and appropriately penned:

Psalm 145:13 ~ Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.

It only makes sense that God’s people be faithful as well. Every time I find myself strolling in Dallas, I’m reminded that people, places, and ideas will come and go but our God will never leave us or forsake us!

Deuteronomy 31:6 ~ Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

We followers MUST be faithful!!

 

Stand Firm,

 

Steve

Advertisements

God’s Mess-terpiece

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.  – Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT

In just a few short verses Paul describes an amazing story. This is the story of God’s grace extended to the far less-than-deserving. This is the story of God’s great Gift that could never be earned and could only be wrongfully claimed as our own doing. And this is the story of God’s amazing work of art.

Look closely at that word Paul uses: Masterpiece. Other translations use the word “workmanship” or “handiwork”. Just pausing to consider the majesty of His creation—the beauties of the clouds and canyons, wildlife and waterfalls—proves that God is the Eternal Artist. But it’s not the world around us that Paul calls a masterpiece. He says that we are God’s masterpiece!

And what a palette God has to work with! Adventures and adversity. Heartthrobs and heartburn. Mistakes and memories. Discoveries and disappointments. Injuries and inquiries. Troubles and triumphs. Sorrows and celebrations. Wisdom and wounds. Expletives and expectations.

Up close, the unique and colorful blend of these things and more that make up our lives looks like a mess. But through the lens of God’s Providence it is possible to see that the Great Artist has been, is, and will be creating a masterpiece out of our messes. I like to call it a “Mess-terpiece”. And as works of art in His hands God is uniquely making us to serve a specific purpose in His perfect plan.

Let me share with you a few words of encouragement regarding God’s artistry being demonstrated in your life.

people looking at assorted type paintings

You are valuable. – The enemy does not want you to serve the purposes of God. He

wants to steal you away from God, kill your body, and eternally destroy you (John 10:10). And part of Satan’s strategy toward making that happen is to accuse you loudly and often of having no worth to God. His goal is to constantly dredge up your sins and shortcomings in order to drive you away from God. But the truth is that the enemy is a liar (John 8:44). No matter how much he may try to convince you of having no value, he is wrong! You are far from worthless because God loves you so much that He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, as the perfect sacrifice for your sins (John 3:16-17). And now, in Christ Jesus you are God’s child (Galatians 4:4-7). You belong to Him. And He has a plan for you that you alone are supposed to do. No matter how messy your life may be, you have a place and purpose in God’s plan. You are valuable to Him!

 You don’t have to be “the best” [fill in the blank]. – Our culture feeds the idea that everything is a competition. You’ve got to be the best at your job, the most recognized athlete on the field, the most famous celebrity, the person with the most friends and most “likes” on social media, and on and on and on. If you really think about it, this idea creates so much unnecessary pressure to be people God hasn’t made us to be. That doesn’t mean that we should be content to remain as we are. As followers of Jesus our primary objective in life is to become more like Him, to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). But becoming like Jesus doesn’t mean that we have to be the best “this”, “that”, or “the other thing” for our lives to matter. We simply need to be who God has designed us to be.

You are a work in progress. – When I was a kid, back before photocopies were so

God Don't Make No Junk

readily available and things weren’t passed around so easily via the internet, my grandparents had a picture hanging by a magnet on their refrigerator. Because I saw it so frequently it’s point stuck in my heart. “I know I’m Somebody,” it said, “’cause God 

don’t make no junk.” Those words remind me of King David’s words from Psalm 139, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:14, 16). Your life may be messy, but you are not a failure. God is not finished with you yet. He is putting together a plan for your life that He has had in mind since before your were born. And get this, there is nothing you can do tomess it up. God is using everything in your life—your character, your circumstances, your personality, your possessions, your interests, and everything else, even your mess-ups and failures!—to make you into exactly the person you need to be to accomplish what He has planned for you. So ask yourself, “How am I seeing God work in my life?”

PaletteIf you’ve ever looked at an artist’s palette while he or she is creating a masterpiece, you’ll remember that it looks like complete chaos. Different colors are mixed in a wide variety of shades and hues. It looks like a mess. But from that apparent “mess” the artist creates a beautiful and well-ordered image.

The palette of your life may resemble a similar mess, too. But God, the eternal Artist, is not finished creating His masterpiece. And throughout our lives, as He continues to apply one brushstroke after the next, we must trust that He knows what He is doing.

Let me challenge you to take a few moments to reflect upon your life. Consider a few of the significant moments you have been through, and look for God’s brushstrokes. What was God doing in your life? How was He working? How has He used those experiences to make you who you are today?

Then think about your life now. Where do you see God creating His work of art in you today? How is He proving His faithfulness? In what ways is He using you as a part of His plan?

“For we are God’s masterpiece.” A wonderful work of art!

Let’s! Do! AWANA!

On August 28th, we’ll hold our annual registration and ice cream social for the start of our new Family Awana year. We teach kids from ages 2-18 the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The teaching of this “Good News” comes in various forms including scripture memorization, Bible stories, object lessons and puppet skits.

tuesday-300x184
We meet on Tuesday nights from 6:00-7:30 pm during the school year.

Parents may work directly with their kids, or other age groups. We also offer a parenting class that runs in conjunction with Family Awana.

DSC05281.JPG

Each year we’re asked why we emphasize the involvement of parents or grandparents? Our answer…“it’s biblical”. If we trace God’s intention for families, we see His design to prepare a people for Himself. God promised Abraham that he would be a great and powerful nation … a nation that would serve the Lord.

In Deuteronomy 6, the biblical purpose of parenting is highlighted as parents are instructed to impress the hearts of their children with a love for God. They are told to do so by talking about God’s Word at home, on the road and by praying with their children when they lie down and get up. This is critical to understand because God designed parents to have a unique voice in their children’s lives and to influence their children as no one else can.

DSC05236

Here at Montrose Christian, we gather with parents to teach our children what it means to follow Jesus in their lives, and how to develop a better understanding of God’s Word, His nature and His Son.

In 3 John 4, we read the following words; “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

Our goal is that our young adults leave home with a deeper understanding of God’s Word, a steadfast faith and a desire to become more Christ-like each day. And by the way, we build some fun time in there while doing so!

DSC05308.JPG

If you have questions, please feel free to contact our staff at 249-5432. We’d be happy to discuss this exciting ministry with you…or just come and see for yourself!

What’s Your “Go-to”?

As many of you know, our family has been a baseball family for 25 years. I’ve had the privilege of coaching each of our boys through their various stages of the game throughout their growing up years. I can’t even begin to imagine how many baseballs I’ve thrown – not just to my guys, but to their (literally, hundreds of) teammates over those years. If you know much about baseball, you’re well aware that pitching is the key. As they say, “great pitching always beats great hitting.”

I was thinking about that the other day and I was reminded that all great pitchers have a “go-to” pitch. The “go-to” pitch is the one that they have absolute confidence they can throw for a strike in a crucial situation. A pitcher’s “go-to” pitch may be a 2-seam fastball, a 4-seam fastball, a curve, a slider, a change-up, and so on.

Not only does a pitcher have a “go-to” pitch, but a coach usually has a “go-to” play.

This truth extends far beyond baseball. In a football game for example, if a team simply has to gain a yard to get a first down in a crucial situation, or has one play that can win the game, the coach almost always has a “go-to” play. You may recall that in the famous movie “Hoosiers,” the fill-in coach (played by Dennis Hopper) of that small Indiana High School basketball team went to his “go-to” play he called the “picket fence” and won the game.

I know I’ve probably lost those of you who have no interest in sports, but just in case you’re still with me, let me remind you that there are other areas of life in which we have exercise the “go to” approach. My “go to” meal – the one I know I can prepare in a moment’s notice, on that rare and frightful occasion when my wife is sick, out of town, out with a friend, etc., is taco salad.

My sons know that if their mom is not on location, we’re probably having taco salad. It couldn’t be easier to prepare and, at times, it actually tastes good! Of course as my sons grow up and lead their own families, they may never want to eat another taco salad…but we survive, and isn’t that all that matters?

The “go to” principle exists in all of life if you think about it. What’s the “go to” for a kid in school who didn’t get his homework done?

“The dog ate it!”

Now, who can argue with that? When I was in high school, we had a train that would slowly traverse through the middle of our little town a couple times a day bringing traffic to a standstill. It serviced the largest business in town, the now defunct Simpson Lumber Company. Guess what every kid in high school claimed when he or she was late for class? You got it!

669077FE-4AFC-4E71-B52A-D73B38AF8DDA

“I got stuck behind the train.”

It didn’t matter if it wasn’t true…it worked! I was the son of the principal and I even used it once! It was our “go to” excuse!

I was thinking about our “go to’s” the other day when I was reading about Moses. Early on in the Israelites’ 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the people were complaining about not having water. As a result, God told Moses to go and strike a certain rock with his staff, and wallah, what came from the rock? Pure Artesian H2O (loose translation) which was probably as cool as the other side of the pillow.

Toward the end of their 40-year journey going nowhere fast, the complaint over lack of water re-surfaced. This time however, God didn’t tell Moses to strike the rock. Instead, He told him to “talk to the rock.” Hmm…talk to the rock…rock talk. I’ve talked to people with whom I felt like I was talking to a rock, but I can’t truly say I’ve ever talked to a rock.

This must be somewhat similar to what Moses was thinking, because instead of talking to the rock, he assumed (I’m guessing) that what God actually meant was that he should, once again, strike the rock (God loves it when we assume He means something other than what He said). So, instead of talking to the rock as God commanded, Moses called upon his previous personal experience and struck the rock. Wallah – once again, water came gushing out.

The people loved it, saying something like, “These guys rock!” So Moses was right, God said one thing, but truly meant something else…or did He?

Numbers 20:12

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

Ouch! That smarts more than a little!

For 40 years, Moses and his “broseph” had wanted and dreamed of nothing more than leading these brats into the promised land. In a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, poof! It was gone. The privilege of entering the promised land was taken from these guys. You see, the immediate desire was met, but the long-range goal was sacrificed!

For Moses, his “go to” was his experience. Experience had taught him that striking the rock is how it works. His personal experience had taught him how to meet the immediate need. It’s what seemed to be the most practical way to deal with this dilemma. In this case, Moses’ personal experience trumped God’s command.

“For Moses, his “go-to” was his experience.”

Moses isn’t alone in this catastrophic way of thinking, is he? How many times have you and I decided that God didn’t mean what He said? We make that tragic decision because whatever it is that God is telling us to do runs contrary to our personal experience. Our personal experiences trump God’s commands and for the moment, as Mo and Aaron experienced, it may work out okay. Then comes the shock.

We miss out on God’s blessing! We misfire on the long-range plan God has for our lives. I believe that most of us are plagued with this process and we seem to never learn. I’ve talked to scores of people over the last 35 years of ministry in regard to personal decisions – often relationship-type decisions. I unashamedly tell them what God’s Word clearly says and they unashamedly respond with, “But my experience is different.”

In the end, they USUALLY choose to follow their own experience instead of God’s command. Following their personal experience is their “go to” in times of dilemmas and big decisions as well as daily decisions. Granted, in the short term they may sip from the Aquafina bottle of life, but in the process, long-term-thirst-quenching-satisfaction and Kingdom-effectiveness are sacrificed.

What’s your “go to”? Is it God’s commands or your experience?

Are We Starving?

You don’t hear from me very often – especially in writing. My name is Monica and I’m the Music Director for Montrose Christian Church.

The pastors here at MCC kind of “take turns” posting to our blog.  June happened to have an extra Friday in it, so I took it upon myself to sneak in a post (hopefully “The Guys” – as I’ve come to call them – aren’t surprised)!

I’ve been re-reading a great book recently entitled “How to Worship a King” by Zach Neese.

IMG_6960-1140x600

Because I’m a student of God’s Word and a teacher of worship in our family of families, books like this capture my attention.  The author makes a great analogy of how we approach worship and often our habits and/or attitudes toward worshiping together.

Mr. Neese describes a situation in which a worship leader acts as a waiter at the table of our Holy King and His Bride.  It’s a great metaphor!  I and my team, as worship leaders, provide whatever The King orders for His table. We serve the guests of honor (The King and the Church – because the Church body is His Bride).

A good waiter wouldn’t interrupt the conversation at the table.  He would try to be invisible, never trying to attract the eye of the bride or her affection.  Neither should the waiter be trying to entertain. The conversation and interaction of The King and His Bride is powerful, sometimes intimate, and isn’t for the waiter – it’s for them.

buffet-974742_1920.jpgJust imagine this scene: a huge table with The King presiding at the head, seats for everyone and a huge buffet with more food than we could ever eat, conversation abounding and filling the air, The King enjoying every moment of His time with you and His people. This is a Sunday worship gathering.

table-decoration-1449232_1920.jpg

Further, imagine an intimate dinner setting for two. A small table with few items allowing you to sit closely to each other – The King seated comfortably and you seated face-to-face with Him, the room barely lit with warm and inviting lamps, scrumptious food arrives and you enjoy it slowly course after course, intimate conversation, The King spoils you and you adore Him for it. This is private worship – just you and your King.

If we stretch this metaphor even further, we realize that people don’t typically go to restaurants simply because they need food.  They go for the atmosphere, the conversation, the opportunity to get out of the mundane (sandwiches and chips get kinda boring after a while).  They don’t go because they’re starving.  People would be unable to eat such a meal if they are horribly malnourished when they arrive.

Apply that thinking to our worship as a body.  Do we come on Sunday to worship expecting to be fed?  Needing to be fed?  Starving?

Or, are we getting nourishment each day of the week and coming to worship together for the fellowship and grandeur of it all? The over-the-top “meal” that can be had together with our Great King. The bubbling conversation. The interaction both with Him and with each other.

If I’m not spending time in private, daily worship – communicating and interacting with my King privately and intimately – then I will arrive on Sunday severely undernourished. Starving. My relationship with my King will be surface – at best. My understanding of His Word, His direction, His will, and His ways will be skewed. Moreover, my worship of Him will be shallow and awkward since I haven’t really spent time with Him all week.

However, if I read His word, pray, and spend private time with Him daily, I will have the relationship and understanding of my King that will not only be reflected in group worship but help others gain momentum in their worship. We worship together as The Family of God joining our praises and adoration into one voice for His glory. How can we do that if we’re ignoring The King the other 6 days of the week?

bible-1149924_1920.jpgWhat does daily, private worship look like? Ultimately it would be focused on The Lord our God and not on ourselves or for the eye of an onlooker. Intimate. Private. Honest. It could be singing His praises, dancing for His joy, praying and conversing with Him, reading or meditating on His Word, weeping in His arms, quietly listening for His voice, resting and reflecting on His character, or any other activity or behavior which allows you to fully adore who He is.

Imagine a church body full of daily worshipers who gather weekly to match up their praises together to glorify their King. They the Bride, He the Creator. They the apple of His eye, He the One True God.

I ask you, Church: are we starving?

Mexico Outreach for 2018

 

On December 26th, 2018, a group from MCC will be traveling to Puerto Penasco, Mexico to build one or possibly two homes for needy families there. Sign-ups are currently underway for individuals or families that would like to participate. Our intent is to let folks know that we’ll begin meetings as a group at the end of the summer to start organizing the team and answering any questions you may have concerning the trip. If you’d like to join us, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Passports are required
  • Dates: Dec 26-31, 2018
  • Deposits will be due at the 1st meeting. They are:
    • $75 per individual
    • $200 per family
    • Fully refundable
  • The remaining trip costs will be determined just prior to the meeting
  • You can camp in your tent (free), bring an RV ($8/night) or reserve a bed in the 15-person bunkhouse ($5/night)
  • We’ll camp our 1st night near Phoenix, AZ. Covered picnic tables and vault toilets are the only amenities provided
  • Meals are provided in Mexico starting with Breakfast on Dec 28th and ending with lunch Dec 30th
  • Purified water is provided in Mexico
  • You’ll be responsible for the other meals

Our goal is to get the team into as few vehicles as possible for the drive. If you would like to sign-up or you have other questions, please feel free to contact Bryan at the church office – 249-5432.

KNOTTED UP

It resides at the heart of a multitude of difficult situations. It makes moments stressful and seasons overwhelming. It accompanies poor decisions, new endeavors, unexpected incidents, and strained relationships. It affects your health, crinkles your forehead, and engraves wrinkles on your face. It ties your life in knots.

What is it? Anxiety.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.” That means that about 1 in every 6 people you come in contact with are likely dealing with the challenges associated with anxiety.

I’d believe those stats. I’d say that throughout the years I’ve been in ministry, most of the people who have come to me for counseling have done so because they were dealing with some sort of struggle with either momentary or chronic anxiety.

And let me tell you, I am so thankful that God’s Word provides such simple and practical words to help myself and others deal with the anxiety that quickly knots us up. They come from Paul’s words to the church in Philippi while he was enduring a time that should have plagued him with anxiety, doing time in a Roman prison. Let’s break apart and focus on what he says statement-by-statement in Philippians 4:4-7.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Worship No matter what is going on around us it is always the right time to focus on the Lord and rejoice in Him. That goes for those moments when things are going great and even when things are difficult. Good, bad, or somewhere in the middle, now is the time to worship God.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all.” If you are a follower of Jesus Christ and have trusted in Him, you have received the Gift of the Holy Spirit. And among the other characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit in your life, He has provided you with gentleness (Galatians 5:22-23). So especially in the uneasy moments, we must let Him work through us and in us.

“The Lord is near.” No matter what circumstances you find yourself in, you are never alone (Psalm 139:7-10). The moment may look like a neatly ordered field of flowers or a raging tornado, but God is always near. The question is: Do I recognize His presence?

“Do not be anxious about anything…” Do you see the command? We are told not to be anxious. That means that anxiety is a choice. We choose either to be anxious or not to be anxious. Refusing to be anxious is easier said than done. But it can be done, if we choose to.

Prayer

“…but in everything…” That’s right, everything. Every moment. Every situation. Every circumstance. Every trouble. Every victory. Every…everything.

“…by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” The key to battling our anxiety is our relationship with God. As we make the choice to connect with Him in prayer we are reminded that we need Him and that He is more than able to take care of everything we may be experiencing. Nothing is even hard for our Creator who made everything with just a word (Genesis 1; Jeremiah 32:17). He is always working out the details that we are not able to see. And because of that, we have great reason to give thanks to God, even in the midst of our most anxious times. He’s got this, so in prayer connect with Him.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” What is the opposite of anxiety? It’s not the lack of the more difficult moments. It’s peace! Peace even in those moments. And God is the One who can provide that peace. As the verse says, we won’t always understand it, but He gives it. And we’ll have it, especially as we rest in the fact that through Jesus, He has already taken care of our greatest need. Through the loving, sacrificial Gift of His Only Son on the Cross, God has forgiven our sins and has restored our relationship with Him!

Peace

As a fellow human who is bound in space and time just like you are, I don’t know what you may be going through that is bringing you anxiety. But I’m confident of this: God, who is boundless and is always in control, does. He knows everything about you (Psalm 139:1-4; Luke 12:7). And He loves you. How about spending some focused time with Him as you allow Him to untie your knots? How about allowing Him to replace your anxiety with His peace?