A Vow for the New Year

Making plans for your life in the New Year?  Could it be that God already has a plan for you and is patiently waiting to make that plan a reality?  When one considers how everything seems to have a purpose in nature (atoms, genes, plants, animals, etc.), it makes sense to believe that each of us has a purpose as well.  On the other hand, if all of creation seems to have just happened without any reason, then this means our minds and spirits must have no reason or purpose as well.  How can we trust them?

But believers trust that there is a great Intelligence that brought everything into existence.

There is a Mind and a Heart at the center of all creation.  If that’s the case, then life can only make sense when we seek what the Creator has in mind for us.

Jesus, who knew the Mind and Heart of God better than anyone who ever lived on Earth, once said to the erring Peter: “You are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things” (Mark 8:33, NRSV).

Setting our minds on human things can get us into trouble.  That’s why it often seems we live in a crazy mixed-up world.  How can life ever be fulfilling, without the purpose God has for that life?

To set one’s mind on divine things leads us to consider the one vow we should take seriously for the New Year.  Your will, Lord.  Your will and nothing else.             

From Pastor Tom - Little Faith + Big God = Huge Results

Is it possible to be filled with faith and doubt at the same time? Yes!

You can have faith that God wants you to do something and still be scared to death. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is going ahead and doing what you’re called to do in spite of your fear.

You have to begin with the faith you already have – it may be just a little, but you start there. A beautiful example of this is the story of the man who brought his sick son to Jesus in Mark 9:

Jesus looked at the man and said, “I can heal your son. If you will believe, I will heal him.” The father then makes a classic statement: “Lord, I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.”

Have you ever felt like that? “Lord, I have some faith. But I also have some doubts.”  This man was filled with faith and doubt, yet despite his honest doubts, he went ahead and asked Jesus for a miracle. And he got his miracle – Jesus healed his son.

No matter how weak or how frail you think your faith is – it’s enough.

Matthew 17:20 says, “If you have faith as small as the mustard seed, nothing will be impossible to you.” That’s not a lot of faith; in fact, it’s just a little faith. But what else does that verse teach? “If you have faith as the mustard seed, you can say to the mountain, ‘Move’ and it will be moved.”

Don’t get this reversed. We like to read this verse backward. We want it to say, “If you have faith like a mountain you can move a mustard seed” – as if it takes enormous faith to do a very little task.  But that is not what the verse says.  It says:  “If you have faith as small as the mustard seed, nothing will be impossible to you.”

Everybody has faith – the difference is what you put your faith in.

 God wants us to start with the faith we have.  Based on the example of the mustard seed – you don’t need a whole lot of faith to do great things for God. You just need a little.

 So here is how it works:

Little faith + a very Big God = Huge results

You take your little faith and say, “Lord, I believe! Help me with my unbelief!” And you put it in our Big God. And then he’ll show you how he works out huge results.

 Blessings - Pastor Tom

 

From Pastor Tom - Four Keys to Navigating Spiritually Dry Seasons

Let’s be honest – all of have times when we find it hard hearing God’s voice.  We have all experienced a period of spiritual dryness – a place some would call a spiritual desert.  The spiritual desert IS NOT a fun place to be. It is dry – lonely – and HOT!  During this season our relationship with God feels distant and lifeless. When we sense that God is distant here are four things to practice that can help us get closer to God:

 1. Confess Our Sin

There are always sins that we knowingly and unknowingly commit.  If we continue committing sins that we know God wants us to stop – it puts a strain on our relationship with Him.  The strain on our relationship does not mean He does not love us.  If anything – the strain is a demonstration that He wants us to move closer to Him.  We can move closer to Him by confessing our sin before Him.  Remember:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9 (KJV)

2. Remember Our Worth

In 1 Peter 2:9-10 we are told that we are chosen and that we have value. The Bible says:

“You are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 (NASB) 

We are not chosen because of our gender – height – weight – or education. We are chosen because of God’s mercy. We are exalted and elevated in His presence – that is a reality!

3. Pump-Up The Praise

When God feels far-away it is easy to turn down our praise. During desert seasons – our praise should be seen and heard.  We need to remember that it is easy to praise God when things go well – but the true men and women of character praise God through the good times as well as the bad times.  The Bible says:

“I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” Psalm 9:2 (NASB)

4. Get Up – Get Dressed – Go To Church

When we go through desert seasons the very place we run from is where we need to run towards – CHURCH! Guess what – you are not the only person going through a dry season. There are others who are going through something similar. However difficult it looks – do not stop going to church.  Healing and inspiration happens when we are together. In fact – we are better together.  The Bible says:

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25 (NASB)

Are you going through a dry season?  What do you do when you go through dry seasons?

Blessings – Pastor Tom

From Pastor Tom - Pray for Problems That You Can't Solve

A young minister once asked a veteran missionary what advice he might give to him as he assumed his first pastorate. The missionary replied, "Pray for problems that you can't solve. That way, when God solves them, you will walk by faith!" That's actually great advice for any Christian, for we are so tempted to serve God in our flesh and not by faith!

In 2 Chronicles 20 Jehoshaphat prayed a prayer – he said:

 "O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You. Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? They have lived in it, and have built You a sanctuary there for Your name, saying, 'Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.' Now behold, the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom You did not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt (they turned aside from them and did not destroy them),  see how they are rewarding us by coming to drive us out from Your possession which You have given us as an inheritance. O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You." 2 Ch. 20:6-12 (NASB) 

 Jehoshaphat faced an impossible situation. There was no hope but God. His prayer contains timeless principles for when we encounter hard challenges or crushing circumstances. This passage teaches us to do the following:

(1) Seek the Lord

(2) Stand firm

(3) Pray the promises of God

(4) Worship God joyfully in prayer during the battle.

Finally this story reminds us to give all the glory to God for the outcome. After God delivered His people "They assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD. . ." (2 Chronicles 20:26)

Praising God must not be something we do occasionally but something we offer every time we pray. Every day we must bless God! Public mercies call for public acknowledgements!

Let us learn to pray as Jehoshaphat did. The precious promises of God give us hope in the darkest nights. "This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me." (Psalm 119:50) Let us pray His Word:

 "Lord I do not know what to do! Lord I have no power, might or wisdom, but God, my eye is on You! You have done great things before! Keep me in the cleft of the Rock! Be my shelter in the storm! Be my shade in the heat. I trust You!"

Blessings,

Pastor Tom

From Pastor Tom - Transforming Power

Many years ago a man was selling small tracts of the Bible which contained portions of scriptures. He was stopped in Chicago and was robbed. The robber told him to set a fire and burn all the merchandise he was selling. After lighting a fire, the man asked the robber if he might read aloud from one of the tracts he had been selling before he sent it up in flames. The robber gave him permission and he read:

                      “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul;

He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I fear no evil, for You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”  (Psalm 23)

 

After the reading the robber said, “Don’t burn that one.”

 The salesman picked up another one and started reading,

 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven……” (Matt. 5:3)

 After reading that one the robber said, “Don’t burn that one either.”

The salesman picked up another one and started reading,

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal….”  (1 Cor. 13:1)

Again the robber said, “Don’t burn that one.” And so it went time after time until all the tracts were read and not one burnt. Finally the robber said, “Those are all good readings.” As the robber left he took not only the man’s money but all of the tracts with him. Some years later the salesman and the robber would meet again. But this time the robber was a minister who was faithfully preaching the Word of God.

The Word of God is powerful and can change lives – that is why God says:

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”  Isa 55:11 (KJV)

The Message Bible says it this way:

 “So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They'll do the work I sent them to do, they'll complete the assignment I gave them.”  Isa 55:11 (Msg)

God has the power to transform lives. Do you want your life changed?  Then read the Bible – God can change your life through the reading, hearing and doing of His word.

Blessings,

Pastor Tom

 

 

From Pastor Tom - Vulnerability: A Forgotten Virtue

I don’t know it all just like you don’t know it all.  There are limits to our knowledge, ability, and energy.  And while the competitive nature of our culture would have us to hide all of our weaknesses in fear, there is tremendous power in becoming vulnerable with people.

Deciding to become vulnerable is risky.  Admitting that we have some flaws – is not popular.  But let’s be honest – we are human aren’t we?  At this point in my life I have never met a perfect human – have you?

Is admitting vulnerability worth the risk?  Absolutely!  Here are some important reasons why vulnerability is a forgotten virtue…

1. It is emotionally healthy.

    Maintaining an image of perfection requires enormous amounts of emotional energy.  One of the reasons we sometimes get so stressed out and depressed is because we’re working so hard to stay behind the facade and keep everyone convinced that we’re strong.

    If you are constantly worried about your image – you are heading for burnout.  Keeping people happy and impressing others is terribly exhausting, and it’s always temporary.  Eventually, people will see that you have flaws.

    James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (NLT)  We need to confess our sins to God to be forgiven, but we also need to talk about our weaknesses with others to find healing.

2. It is spiritually empowering.

    James also says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NLT)

    Humility is another virtue that is neglected today.  But remember – pride prevents power! 

3. It is relationally attractive.

    Everybody is wearing a mask and it’s what we expect others to do as well.  When we choose to throw our masks away, we surprise people with our authenticity.  Being real is the fastest way to endear yourself to others.

    We tend to love people who are real, honest, humble, and vulnerable and we tend to despise people who are deceitful, arrogant, and hypocritical.  Paul told the Thessalonian believers, “We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News, but our own lives, too.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NLT)

 When you share your strengths – you create competition.  But when you share your weaknesses – you create community.  We are all in this together.  Strive to be honest and open with others and see what happens.

 May God Bless,

Pastor Tom

From Pastor Tom - Biblical Meditation

What are you filling your mind with? What are you thinking about?  All of us have thoughts – day and night we think about things.  Are they uplifting thoughts or are they depressing thoughts? 

Did you know that God cares what we think about?  That is why the Bible says:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians (KJV) 4:8 

Many of our thoughts may be passing.  Some of them stick around for awhile.  Some thoughts we just can’t seem to get out of our heads.  That is why the Bible goes on to say:

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3

Puritan pastor William Bridges once noted, "A man may think about God every day and meditate on God no day."

God commands us to meditate on His Word and godly people model this in Scripture.  God personally promises spiritual success, stability; fruitfulness and strength for thinking deeply about spiritual truth with the goal of understanding it and applying it to our lives (Psalm 1:1-3).

Biblical meditation is quite different from the popular forms of meditation suggested today.

Biblical meditations fill one’s mind actively with truth rather than emptying one's mind of thoughts.  Like steeping a bag of tea in hot water, so the mind steeps itself in God's Word. Meditation allows our souls to absorb truth much like our body digests food and absorbs nutrients in our food.

Let me ask again – What are you filling your mind with?  What are you thinking about?  What do you meditate on?  Is it uplifting or is it depressing?

Something to think about.

Blessings,

Pastor Tom

Auburn Farmers Market Vendors Guide

Auburn Farmers Market has been a tradition in our community for over 15 years.  It has always been held in the parking lot of the church on Tuesday afternoons throughout the summer.  That tradition continues today.

Down through the years people have enjoyed – fresh fruits and vegetables, home decorations, specialty items, bedding plants, crafts, jewelry, baked goods, jams and jelly, live poultry and many other products. 

Vendor Rules

1. Vendors are not allowed to buy products and “resale” them at the market.  (They must be produced locally by the seller or an associate in the area.)

2.  There is no charge to the vendor. 

3.  The hours are 12:00 to 5:30 every Tuesday – May through September. 

4.  Vendors can set up 15 minutes before sale time (11:45 am) and are limited to one space per vendor.  (Vendors may park in a space before set up on a first come first serve basis – there are no reserved spaces.) 

5.  Vendors are strongly encouraged to advertise the market.  (You may consider joining with other vendors to have a stronger impact on the customer base.)

6.  A restroom at the church is open during Farmer Market hours. 

(Guidelines were a product of Auburn Farmer’s Market Advisory Board)