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!

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“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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

Summer Worship Gatherings

If you’re from Colorado, you LOVE to get away on the weekends.  In the summer, you probably want to hit the hills, camp at the lake, hike the nearest 14-er, or even bike that trail that’s been calling your name.

We understand.

That’s why we schedule Wednesday worship gatherings in June & July.  There’s no reason to “unplug” from your Family of Families here at MCC.  If you know you’re going to miss Sunday worship, you can plan to attend on Wednesday and not miss a thing!  Here’s the run-down:

  • Sunday Mornings @ 9:30am
    • new message each Sunday
    • worship in the Auditorium with the large group
    • full worship band
  • Wednesday Evenings @ 7pm (June & July only)
    • repeat of the previous Sunday’s message
    • come early for a tailgate at 6ish
      • bring your own meat to grill
      • MCC will provide sides & drinks
      • hang out, visit, enjoy the company
    • worship begins at 7:00 in the Fellowship Hall
    • small parlor band (1-2 instruments with vocals)
    • sit at tables in a casual setting

SummerWorship

Choose what works best for your family!  In either case, know that everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.

If you have questions or need more information, check us out on Facebook, find our website at http://www.montrose-christian.org, or call the office at 249-5432.

Happy Summer!

MCC Goes Camping!

Over the past 6 years, folks from MCC have gotten together to enjoy a weekend of camping near the SilverJack reservoir.  Throughout the weekend, we get together to hike, fish, ride ATVs or just relax and enjoy the incredible scenery … as well as each other’s company!

We also have a big bonfire each night when the weather permits. Note that this is all “dry camping,” meaning there are no electrical or water hook-ups, but we find spots close enough to the vault toilets so tent campers can also join us.

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Here are some details:

  • WHEN: June 14th-17th.
    • The 1st group leaves the church parking lot at noon on Thursday, the 14th.
  • WHERE: About 2 miles past the reservoir,
    • near the west, middle or east fork of the Big Cimarron river
    • look for “MCC” signs with directional arrows on the posts
    • we’ll do our best to save some sites for others coming up
  • WHAT: Each family is responsible for their own meals, gear, and supplies.
  • WHO: Anyone that wants to join us.
  • OTHER: The camp is roughly at an elevation of 9,000 feet, so the nights get pretty chilly. It’s a nice break from the typical June heat in Montrose!

 

MCC camp map

Questions?  Call or come in and talk to Donna or Bryan at the church office: 249-5432.

 

A Hardcopy Treasure Trove

In this electronic day and age we have so much information literally at our fingertips. Whether we access it via a computer keyboard and mouse or by poking

around at our phones or tablets, we have available to us piles of articles, books, magazines, and videos free for the searching, scrolling, reading, and watching. My guess is there’s a good chance that unless someone printed this page off for you, you probably landed on this particular blog using your computer, phone, or tablet.

But I want to let you in on a secret: There’s still paper! loadsa-books-1568319There are still pages! There are still videos and recordings! And many of these things and the treasures they contain can be found in your local church libraries.

Here at Montrose Christian Church the hardcopy resources of our church library have increasingly drifted behind the scenes. Tucked back and often unnoticed there are hundreds (if not thousands) of books and videos for your reading or watching enjoyment and study. In addition to a wide array of Bible commentaries, dictionaries, and encyclopedias to help you glean the most from Scripture, we have resources available to help you become a better spouse or parent, work through the challenges of depression or addiction, take steps of faith and obedience to walk closer with Jesus as His disciple, and many more.

Even if you don’t live in the Montrose area, let me encourage you to search for your own local church library. There’s a good chance that like ours it is kind of hidden behind the scenes. But when you find it, I’m guessing that you’ll discover a hardcopy treasure trove!