Pastor's Blog

Reckless Love - Pastor Bri Hickman - February 20th, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 4:35 PM

 “Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah”
Reckless Love by Cory Asbury

      After Sunday’s message, the song Reckless Love has been stuck in my head. I have had the words above run through my head probably about a thousand times a day. As Bob spoke about Sunday, sheep lose their way a nibble at a time, and eventually they don’t know their way back home. The parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15 is the analogy of the Shepherd who has lost one of his one-hundred sheep and instead of leaving the one behind, the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine found sheep to find the one lost sheep. One of my favorite parts of this story is the line in Luke 15:5-6, “and when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.” The song Reckless Love by Cory Asbury is a beautiful picture of this parable in a way that views us as the sheep who are lost. We couldn’t earn and we don’t deserve for the Shepherd to come looking for us, but yet He still does. Our Shepherd and Savior has left the ninety-nine to find the one lost one. And when He finds us, He JOYFULLY puts us on His shoulders and takes us HOME. 1 Peter 2:25 says, “For "you were like sheep going astray," but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” God calls us HOME to Him, and He will do anything to get us there. He will chase after us with His Love to find us. Later in the bridge of the song, it states, “There’s no shadow You won’t light up, Mountain You won’t climb up, You’re coming after me. There’s no wall You won’t kick down, Lie You won’t tear down, You’re coming after me.” This is such a huge promise that there is NOTHING that will hold God’s love from chasing after us. We don’t deserve the love that God has for us, but yet He still gives it to us freely and desires for us to know His love.

Praying you see and feel His love for you this week!

 

Lent Calls us to MORE - Pastor Lisa Roberson - February 13th, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 3:09 PM

Mom and Dad are relaxing on the couch
On the tippy-est of toes their child creeps up behind them 
Mom and Dad are aware of this stealth approach
The child launches like a bottle rocket over the side of the couch
Mom and Dad knew what was about to happen and yet were still startled

The season of Lent resembles the small child, we are aware it's approaching and yet are still startled by its seemly sudden appearance.  Our culture offers no clues as to when the season begins.  There are no special sections in stores dedicated to this season.  No one uses greetings like, "Merry Lent".  Few if any have a Lenten playlist, nothing is hung by the chimney with care and there are no cake and candles.  And yet...and yet Lent can be a most amazing season.  For 40 days (plus Sundays) we have the opportunity to take time, to create the necessary space, to draw closer to the Father.  It's a 40 day invitation to be intentional about knowing Jesus on a deeper level.  It is time to take stock of who we are in Christ and a time of struggling to grasp the sacrifice our Savior made on our behalf.  Lent calls us to grieve well the death of an innocent man and to unabashedly celebrate the joy of His resurrection.  Lent calls us to more.

to LOVE more
to GIVE more
to PRAY more
to CHANGE the world.

Please join us Wednesday night in the gym at 7:00pm as we quietly and reflectively enter into this amazing season.  Let's change the world

 

Expressing Gratitude Produces Happiness - Interim Pastor Bob Luhn - February 6th, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 @ 4:47 PM

Recently, I was reading an article entitled “Five Ways to Train Your Brain For Happiness”. The author, who had struggled with unhappiness and depression, came to see that happiness can be a skill that we can learn and grow in.  The first, and most important skill he uncovered was gratitude.  He had always assumed that happy people were grateful because everything in their life was working out for their benefit.  In other words, happiness created gratitude.  What he found was the exact opposite: expressing gratitude produces happiness.  Shawn Achor writes, “When researchers pick random volunteers and train them to be more grateful for a period of a few weeks, they become happier and more optimistic, feel more socially connected, enjoy better quality sleep, and even experience fewer headaches than control groups.”

So, this all means that the latest research proves exactly what Paul wrote nearly 2,000 years ago.  “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:18)  It is God’s will that we be grateful and when we are, we end up a happier person.  Life works the way God designed it.

So, let’s see if expressing our gratitude to the barista, the grocery store clerk, the hairdresser, the person who hold the door for you produces increasing happiness in us and all who live in our world.  Here’s to gratitude!

 

Blessings on your week!

Pastor Bob Luhn

Waiting On God - Pastor Andrew Hickman - January 30th, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 @ 3:44 PM

Waiting on God

Right around two years ago, I was at a crossroads in my life. I was anticipating getting married, and I could sense God moving in my life in ways that I could not understand at the time. I had a great job working at a small Christian school, but I could sense that God was closing the door to this chapter in my life. I was confused, and I started worrying about what was next in my life. During this time Bri and I were both searching for ministry opportunities for the both of us to hopefully work together in the same church. The likelihood of that happening seemed very small as most churches today cannot afford to hire associate pastors, but we did not let that get us down because we knew without a doubt that we were in God’s hands. After months of searching for opportunities God asked me to be patient and trust in His timing, and for those that know me, patience is not one of strongest fruits of the Spirit; in fact, it was probably one of my weakest at that point in my life. I am a self-admitted control freak, so patiently waiting for God was not on my radar, however, I did the unimaginable and asked God to grant me patience. WARNING: PRAYING FOR PATIENCE IS A DANGEROUS PRAYER. Well, at least it was for me. The moment I asked God for patience, I felt as if God placed a blank black board in front of me while saying, “Stare at this, and trust ME to fill in the blanks.” God answered my prayer by teaching me to be patient. I stopped searching for other jobs, and said, “God, I know you are working here, and I will trust in you for my future career.”

Little did I know that God was preparing my future job right here in Richland, WA. I would never have imagined moving out west, but God has better plans than I could ever imagine. My story continues with God opening the doors for a couple of churches that wanted to interview my soon to be wife and I, and I was floored by God’s power and work that He was doing in my life. I saw what it truly means to be patient for the first time in my life. When God called us to Richland, Bri and I knew without a doubt that we were supposed to be here. God granted me peace and patience through the time in my life where I had absolutely no control of the outcome, and He amazed me with His constant provision.

I tell you this story because we are coming to the end of our first month as a church without a Lead Pastor. I want to encourage you to be patient with God, for He is preparing our next pastor as well as preparing our church for the next Shepherd. God is doing a great and mighty work in our body, I can sense His Holy Spirit moving. I ask you to join me in the dangerous prayer for patience in our season of transition. God is in control, and we need to trust in Him to carry us through this season. I want to share a Scripture that I meditated on during my season of transition that I shared above. It is found in the book of Psalm 46:10a, “Be still, and know that I am God!” In all my business and worry of the future this verse calmed me down because of the reminder that I serve the God who holds the entire existence of everything in the palm of His hands.

In Christ,

Pastor Andrew

Even If God Seems Silent... LISTEN - Pastor Bri Hickman - January 23rd, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 @ 4:34 PM

                I had the awesome opportunity to speak in Youth Group a couple weeks ago and as I was preparing to write this Pastor’s Blog, I felt that I needed to share what I spoke about in Youth Group. The teens are going through a message series called “Even If…” right now (based on the MercyMe song “Even If”). I titled my message “Even If God seems Silent… LISTEN” and shared my testimony.

                During the fall of my senior year at Olivet, as a Music Ministry major, I got sick, lost my voice for 5 months, and lost hearing in one ear for 4 months. Doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me and they had no diagnosis. I was just told to rest, and drink fluids to heal. After 1 month of resting and fluids, I was sick of it. There was no end in sight and it scared me. I was a music ministry major whose job was going to be singing and using my voice on a daily basis. Questions raced through my head: What are you doing God? Why am I not getting better? If you called me into worship ministry, why are you taking away my voice? It seemed as though there was no answer. It felt like God was silent with me. Have you ever been there? Have you felt that God has been silent with you? Maybe you are even in that season now?

                As the months passed and still no healing, I began to just sit and listen. I couldn’t talk so maybe God was making me be silent to listen?! I went to Orpheus Choir rehearsal and sat and listened. I ACTUALLY LISTENED. I tried to drown it out, but God was using the songs that Orpheus was singing to speak to me. It was as if God was trying to teach me to listen to him in a different way. Music has always spoken to me, but this was different. God was speaking in new ways, in ways that allowed me to trust Him on a deeper level, to understand that He hadn’t left me. We were reading scripture during our devotion time and a passage that I had read over and over again that never “clicked”, SPOKE  something so different and life giving to me. “Speak Lord, for your Servant is Listening”- 1 Samuel 3:9. I began to listen in a different way to what God was trying to say to me and teach me. This started the healing process of my heart to know that God was still there, He was still working, and He hadn’t left me. Within 1 month I had full hearing back and within 2 months my voice was back!

                So what do we do when God is Silent? What did I learn from being silent and listening when He seemed silent? 1) Don’t ignore the silence and don’t shut God out. Just because He seems silent, we should not stop communicating with Him. Scripture shows moments where God was silent, but what did those people do? They kept crying out to Him. Job went through trial after trial and God was silent, but he cried out to God still (Job 19:7). David cried out to God when God was silent with him (Psalm 22:1-2). There are times in our lives where God may seem silent, and we may be going through a spiritually dry spot, but this should encourage us to listen, dig deeper, trust and rely on God. 2) Go back to the basics. Remember that God promises to never leave us or forsake us. Remember that he is always in a constant state of communication with us, but He may be speaking in a different way. Remember to choose to still worship Him in the silence. Rejoice in the silence – Habakkuk 3:17-18. 3) Read your Bible. Don’t forget to dig into God’s Word – His written communication to us –find out about what He has to say about the problems you are facing or the questions you are asking! We silence the sound of God’s voice in our lives when we leave our Bible on the shelf. I know it is easy to leave the Bible to the side when you feel like God isn’t communicating at all. But…“Complaining about God being silent when your Bible is closed is like complaining about not getting texts when your phone is turned off.” 4) LISTEN. Silent times can be an opportunity for growth and depth with God, but we must have a seeking heart and a desire to LISTEN to His voice. God says “Listen for my voice” seven times in the Bible and then seven more times just in the book of Revelation. Listen for His voice in new and fresh ways, listen even in the silence. This week, I challenge you to SIT AND LISTEN to what God is trying to say to you. He is working and moving even in silence. Be expectant to HEAR His voice.

–Pastor Bri Hickman

CHANGE - Pastor Lisa Roberson - January 16th, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 @ 4:32 PM

          Change can be good; who doesn’t like clean sheets, a new pair of running shoes or when winter turns to spring?  The clouds and cold blow away, the sun comes out and our hearts dance with joy as rays of light warm our face.  These kind of changes are easy to embrace and celebrate.  Then there is change that breaks our hearts, the kind we want to avoid more than a root canal or colonoscopy.  These changes do not make our hearts dance with joy.  

          Our church family is in a time of change or to use the proper vernacular, we are in transition, moving from one place to another.  For Associate Pastors this is part of our ministerial adventure, it is a time of reflection and intently seeking the will of God for the direction of our lives.  I invite you to join this journey.  I invite you to begin asking the questions. “Father, am I serving in this body where you want me to serve? During this time of transition am I using the time, talents and treasure you have blessed me with in ways which please you and helps my fellow church family members?”  I invite you to be open to where He leads.

          And I invite you to ponder one last question, a quote on my door reads, “You will find what you are looking for.”  So I ask, what are you looking for?

Jeremiah 29:13

13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  


Pastor Lisa Roberson

A Time of Transition - Interim Pastor Bob Luhn - January 9th, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Monday, January 15, 2018 @ 3:22 PM

First of all, I would like to thank you for warmly welcoming Kathy and me to the Richland Nazarene Church.  It has been a delight to meet you and we now have dozens of names and faces floating around in our brains and trying to line them up with the right person.  We’ll eventually put them together, but please be patient with us.

Transitions are difficult, I know.  As Mark Twain noted, “The only one who likes change is a wet baby”.  Like it or not, we are in the midst of change.  But we serve the One who changes not, the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  So, Even though our lives are changing, and leadership is changing in the congregation, we have a sure foundation in Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone of the church.

So, let’s trust Him to lead us where we need to go, and let’s have fun on the journey.  Live with our eyes wide open to see the marvelous things the Lord is doing in this time of transition.

Pastor Bob Luhn

SOMETHING GREAT FROM SOMETHING SMALL - PASTOR JANINE METCALF - Week of December 17-24

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Thursday, December 21, 2017 @ 5:44 PM

SOMETHING GREAT FROM SOMETHING SMALL

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for meone who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old,from ancient times (MIcah 5:2).

Have you ever wondered why God did not pick a thriving city for his Son’s debut?  Bethlehem was almost a small suburb of Jerusalem, about five miles southeast of the big city. Scholars believe that the regular population of the area was around 200 people. No crossroads. No notable resources. Just hills and sheep. So why was Bethlehem chosen as the birthplace of Jesus? Could it be that:

  • Jacob’s wife Rachel was buried there (Genesis 35:16-19)– She died in Bethlehem giving birth to Jacob’s beloved son Benjamin. The name “Benjamin” in the Hebrew means “son of my right hand.” It just happens to be one of the names for the Messiah -- “son of my right hand.”
  • KING DAVID’S GREAT GREAT GRANDMOTHER RUTH WAS REDEEMED THERE (Ruth 4:10-11)– Ruth was a Moabite widow who came with her Jewish mother in law Naomi to Bethlehem. Ruth, a Gentile widow, could have been rejected, abandoned and left to die. But a godly Hebrew man, Boaz redeemed her. He married her and saved her life. Out of their marriage came Obed, the grandfather of David.
  • DAVID WAS ANOINTED KING THERE (1 Samuel 16:1) – David was also born there. This is the main reason Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem. Joseph was from the line of David and was required by Caesar Augustus to register in the home of his ancestors. The Gospel of Matthew confirms King David is the Great, Great, Great, Great (39 times) grandfather of Jesus --  the King of Kings.

            Even the name Bethlehem offers great meaning. Bethlehem means  “house of bread.” What better place for the Jesus, “THE BREAD OF LIFE” to be born. Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51).

 

Bethlehem may have been small, but it possessed great significance. The Bible consistently tells us what may appear small to the world, may be great in the eyes of God. And ironically, He who is infinitely big became small for our sakes. Christ’s birth reminds us that:

  • Every person matters to God – from the tall to the short, from the old to the young, from the loud to the silent, from the fifth generation Christian to the stranger who just walked through the door. Our Good Shepherd leaves the 99 in his flock to find that one who wanders off.
  • Every comment matters to God – A cutting remark can spark much trouble and misunderstanding. Conversely, a word of affirmation can lift the lowest heart.

I’ll never forget the card I sent my grandma a few years before she died. I thanked her for being so special to me. I didn’t think much of it. When Grandma died I found that note in her nightstand. The card was worn. . . the ink faded. It had obviously been read many times.

  • Every thought matters to God -- Just as yeast works its way through dough, a small thought of doubt, resentment or bitterness can work its way through our spirit and spoil our attitude. That’s why the Book of Hebrews reminds us to “fix our thoughts on Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1).
  • Every ministry matters to God – Be it seen or unseen, paid or unpaid, all we do can become a holy offering for Christ.

WHAT CAN WE SAY OR DO TO BLESS SOMEONE TODAY? Ask God for the wisdom to know and the grace to follow through.

The Fourth Man - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of December 3-9

Posted by Andrew Hickman on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 @ 2:03 PM

Today’s reading takes us to Babylon  years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Three young Hebrew men are tossed in a furnace for not bowing to the idol made by King Nebuchachnezzar. You probably know this classic story. Most of us learned it as children. Before being tossed in the flames, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego declare one of the greatest statements of faith in Scripture: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up”

(Daniel 3:17-18).

That proclamation sealed their fate. All three were bound and thrown into a furnace so hot that their guards were burned to death. That didn’t happen to our Jewish heroes, however. At some point the trio turned into a quartet. When the king looked in the furnace he saw four men walking around unbound and unharmed. He immediately called the three men out and began praising their God.

Nebuchachnezzar decided the fourth man in the fire was an angel. Most biblical scholars, however, believe the fourth man was none other than the pre-incarnate (before taking on human flesh) Son of God. Our Lord may have also showed up as a visitor to Abraham’s home (Genesis 18:1-3), as a man who wrestled with Jacob in the desert (Gen 32:24-25), or the “Commander of the Lord’s Army” who instructed Joshua how to defeat Jericho (Joshua 5:14).

Each “theophany” or visible manifestation of God reveals he was and is intimately involved in the struggles of his people. That is one of the reasons when God’s Son became human; he arrived as a baby – vulnerable and approachable. Someone to whom both unclean shepherds and wealthy stargazers could bow and worship. He was also purposely named “Immanuel,” or God with us (Isaiah 7:14).

As we step into today, let’s remember the fourth man is with us. It’s one thing to say, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” It’s another to deeply believe, “Jesus is with me, so I’ll go.” He is Immanuel, ready to deliver us from the enemy’s hand.

Let’s stand on the promise of “the fourth man:”

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name; You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43: 1-3)

Thanksgiving - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of November 20-26

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 2:40 PM

As we approach this Thanksgiving Season, it is good to ponder the valiant witness of the English Pilgrims who settled in Cape Cod in 1620. Accounts of their journey and survival in Plymouth reveal a dynamic faith that weathered incredible hardships.  Their courage also challenges us to trust God in the midst of formidable odds.

Imagine the nightmare of being cramped with 120 in a small ship for three months. Huddled ‘tween decks, the pilgrims endured relentless high waves battering the bow. The darkness, stench, and sounds of the vessel cracking under the strain must have seemed unbearable. Still, amid groans of the sick and screams of frightened children there arose continual prayer and the assuring cry, “Lord, thou canst save. Lord, thou canst save.” When all seemed lost, they had confidence that God had called them and would somehow sustain them.

Miraculously, all but one passenger survived the trip. Their leader, Samuel Bradford recorded the landing, “Being thus arrived in good harbor, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean.”  The trip was treacherous, but it was nothing compared to the brutal winter that followed their landing. The Pilgrims were plagued by torrential rains, devastating droughts, threats from violent Indian tribes and deceitful fur traders. Their daily ration was five kernels of corn a day. Still, few pilgrims perished. In response to God’s intervention, they held a thanksgiving feast. They included 120 Indians who had assisted them in their darkest hours. Beside each plate was set five kernels of corn. . . lest anyone should forget.

Given all God has done for them, Lonnie and Kristina Ashley will celebrate this Thanksgiving by preparing a meal for residents of their former trailer park. Kristina says, “God has been so good to us, we want to share our joy with folks who may not have family.” The loving spirit of the Pilgrims is alive and well in our church family. May this week prompt us to stop and thank God and pass on the goodness we have received. Who can we call or reach with the generous love of Jesus?

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