Pastor's Blog

OH YEAH? - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of September 18-24

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 4:17 PM

OH YEAH?

We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. (Ecclesiastes 5:15)

 

I can just imagine King Solomon, the named author of Ecclesiastes, sitting before an assembly of admirers discussing “Is life worth living?” With all his power and possessions Solomon determines that hard work, wisdom, pleasure and wealth cannot bring contentment.
 

I’m reminded of some of my former newscaster colleagues. They were in the upper echelon of the network news business pulling in “seven figures” a year – sizable cash for the ‘80s. They drove sleek sports cars, owned homes atop Mulholland Drive and hit all the big clubs. Even so,  they were constantly plagued by fear that their ratings might decline or that some pup reporter in the wings could take their place. Anxiety kept them “on edge” and always in pursuit of the bigger and better.

 

I looked at that restlessness and determined that life was not for me. I began to pray to the God I had disregarded for more than a decade. Oh, I knew he was there for counsel and help in a pinch. He just wasn’t that important to me. Then it happened. An unmistakable yearning began to brew in my soul. We Wesleyans call it “prevenient grace.” It is the steady tug of the Holy Spirit awakening everything within to God’s loving presence. This grace is persistent. It comforts and stalks us to find its source. Seekers are mesmerized and terrorized by it as we follow its trail to “one narrow gate.” In Christ’s light, we see ourselves as we really are -- so loved and so needy for forgiveness. And in a moment of genuine repentance, we see what life is meant to be --  meaningful, purposeful and forever.

 

Solomon was wrong. We may come to the end of our lives here naked in a physical sense, but those who know Jesus as Lord are not empty handed! Stored in my heart is the blessed reality of rich companionship with our Creator and with countless people who have blessed my life. A life spent well for our Savior is filled with purpose and a deep resolve that every day and every person along the way matters. Even the rude, stingy and mean ones. Their presence presses us into God’s grace all the more. No, Solomon. We don’t all leave our riches behind. The riches offered by God last forever.

HEALTHY FEAR - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of September 11-17

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Monday, September 11, 2017 @ 3:55 PM

HEALTHY FEAR

The fear of the Lord leads to life;
    then one rests content, untouched by trouble. Prov 19:23

 

So what does it mean to have “fear of the Lord?” The phrase shows up more than 300 times in Scripture and it is usually not a negative, but a positive thing. For example in Genesis 42:18, Joseph wins his brothers' trust when he declares he is a God-fearing man. It was because the midwives feared God that they obeyed him instead of the authorities by sparing the Hebrew babies (Exodus 1:17). Pharaoh brought disaster on his nation because he did not fear God (Exodus 9:29:31).

And in the New Testament Jesus calls his followers to rightly fear God. "Do not be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell"  (Matthew 10:28). And the apostle Paul says to work toward complete holiness because we fear God (2 Corinthians 7:1).

So fearing God is not about dreading him as much as humbly acknowledging his power and authority over all. And that includes all my struggles from the past and anxiety about the future. Knowing God’s in the house should transform haphazard worship into genuine praise. It should make us think twice before caving into temptation, or daring to call our sins mere “mistakes.” There is a blessed peace in knowing Someone far greater than me is still in control.

Genelle Guzman found that out 16 years ago today. She was the last person pulled out alive from the World Trade Center. She had become a Christian just a few months before. And knowing God as her Lord and Savior really came in handy. On the day of the attack, Genelle was caught on the 64th floor of the North Tower. She somehow found the nearest stairs and started running down. She didn’t make it. The building collapsed on her.

Prayer was new to her, but Genelle just began to speak to God. She remembers asking, “Please God, show me that you’re here with me. Show me that you’re listening.” As she prayed, an unusual calm flooded her body and she fell asleep. Some 27 hours later, she heard voices. She screamed as loud as she could, “I’m here! HEY, I’M RIGHT HERE!"

Genelle wedged her hand through a crack in the wall, and felt someone grab it. She heard a voice say, "I’m Paul, Genelle, I’ve got you," and Genelle said, "OH GOD, THANK YOU.”

It took 20 long minutes to pull her out. BUT HERE’S THE FUN PART. As Genelle was taken to the hospital, she asked to see Paul to tell him thanks. No one knew of a rescue worker by that name. No one saw him or anyone holding her hand. To this day, Genelle believes God responded to her prayer with an angel – one who helped her somehow rest in the horrific darkness.

WORDS - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of September 4-10

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Thursday, September 7, 2017 @ 4:34 PM

WORDS

The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions. Proverbs 10:11

 

The Book of Proverbs repeatedly teaches us that WORDS MATTER. Consider the last words Alace Longham heard from her son, Mark.
"Mom, I love you. We've been hijacked. I love you."

Mark managed to call his mom minutes before his United flight 93 crashed into a field outside of Pittsburgh on 9/11. Sensing his hijacked plane was doomed, he still had the composure to let his family know he loved them.

Given our world’s current crazy weather, natural disasters and ongoing terrorism and violence, we’re reminded daily about the fragile nature of life. We’re also reminded about the value of our words. If something redemptive needs to be expressed, it probably should be said now.

I learned this lesson two decades ago. My relationship with my dad was strained in my teens and twenties because of his struggle with alcohol and my hardheadedness. After committing my life to Christ, I sensed the need to forgive dad and seek his forgiveness for my angry attitude. We eventually met and began the long process of reconciliation. This included follow up letters to dad, just to let him know that I loved him and was thinking about him. Please know forgiveness does not guarantee a restored relationship. Many have offered and sought forgiveness without any response. Regardless, I knew God would be pleased by a willingness to follow through. In our case, the relationship between dad and I was renewed. When he died, there were no lose ends, no regrets for words spoken or not spoken. And as I looked through his night stand, I found the letters I had written to him. They were crinkled and tear stained. They looked as if they had been prayed and cried over many times. I realized those God-inspired words really mattered.

That is why we should not wait for holidays or tragedies to express what needs to be said or written now. May more of our words be graced with thoughtful reflection, awareness of our own shortcomings, and reverence for God who has given us the immeasurable gift of every day, every breath.

SONG IN THE DARK - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of August 28- September 3

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 @ 3:40 PM

 How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:4) 

Picture yourself an Israelite, seated with other captives on the banks of a river in Babylon. Instead of celebrating a break from your hard work, the sound of weeping fills the air. The tears are not necessarily from the harsh treatment of the Babylonians, but from the reality that Jerusalem is gone. Your beloved Temple and houses were destroyed and people you loved were killed or enslaved.  This no picnic for praise, but a wake for what used to be. And to make matters worse, some of your captors drop by and mockingly ask for a song.

Thus, the Psalmist responds, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:4). Remembering their great loss sucked the song right out of their hearts.

You don’t have to be in Babylonia to be in exile. From time to time we’ve all entered “a foreign place” of loss or suffering. And it hurts. It hurts so bad that you cannot sing and can barely breathe. Tears are close to the surface. At any moment a trigger word or memory comes and they flow. Grieving is like that sometimes. You think you are moving on, but every now and then you just feel like crying. And the last thing you want to do is sing.

God gets it. He cried too – among grieving friends (John 11), when his own people missed his coming (Lk 19:44), or in Gethsemane pondering the agony ahead (Lk 22:44). Yes, Jesus cried, even wailed the original Greek tells us. And with his last breath on the cross, God’s song of life seemed silenced for good.  Then came Sunday. And life burst through the tomb and those who knew him had a reason to sing again.

And the song continues. Whenever believers see their sorrow in light of the eternal love and glory God wants to give us. Whatever we once had is nothing compared to what awaits us.

So we sing. Sometimes silently or softly in the midst of sniffles. But we sing. Because wherever we are, whatever we’re going though, God gladly receives our weary offering. And in exchange for praise, he lavishes grace to keep going and to keep singing in the dark.



You Do This... I'll Do That! - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of August 6-12

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Monday, August 7, 2017 @ 12:34 PM

YOU DO THIS . . . I’LL DO THAT!

“Pay back into the laps of our neighbors seven times
    the contempt they have hurled at you, Lord.
Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
    will praise you forever;
from generation to generation
    we will proclaim your praise” (Psalm 79:12-13).

 

        I hear the psalmist bargaining here. “Lord, if you’ll scratch our backs, we’ll scratch yours." He is clearly upset that God’s enemies have invaded the Promised Land. He knows his Hebrew ancestors have disobeyed the Lord and brought on their suffering. But that was then and this is now! This generation should not be punished for the sins of their ancestors. Thus, he seeks God’s forgiveness and mercy.

        He seems to be on the right track, except for one tiny detail. It’s the word “then.” Pay back our enemies, THEN your people will praise you. The praise of God’s people should not be contingent on his answering our prayers. That goes for us as well. God should be praised today and always because he is God. Period.

        Is it possible to praise in seasons of sorrow before the prayer’s answered? If we wait for our situations to improve or our feelings to come around, we may never get around to acknowledging the greatness of our God. Continual praise is an expression of true faith that says, “I may be hurting and confused, but I know that I know YOU ARE STILL THERE, YOU CARE AND WILL WIN.” If Jonah can lift praise in the belly of a big fish (Jonah 2:9), or if Paul can sing in chains (Acts 16:25) can I not acknowledge our Lord’s majesty even now? Nothing shrinks our problems to their right proportion and sends Satan packing like the worship of a humble saint.

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