Pastor's Blog

Building Kingdom Relationships - Pastor Bri Hickman - June 19th, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 3:26 PM

Building Kingdom Relationships
John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

This past week with the Stalcup Family moving to Arkansas and transition, I haven’t been able to get the phrase “build loving relationships” out of my head. The Stalcup family quickly invited Andrew and I over to family meals during holidays, asked us to spend time with them, invited us with them to lunch after church on Sundays, etc. In a little over a year, those invites quickly turned into friendships that then turned into family. I am so thankful for their friendship and the way they loved us unconditionally like family! There is no doubt in my mind that they would lay down their lives for us, and we would lay ours down for them. This is a love that we are to have with those around us. As John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This means that with the relationships and friendships we build, we should aim to have a love for them that would do ANYTHING for them. Kingdom Relationships. Aim to love them like Jesus would and to walk through life with them.

This has me thinking… how am I making friendships that are based on love? How am I building relationships with others? Who would I lay down my life for? How are the relationships and friendships I have working for the kingdom and building kingdom relationships?

I challenge you as I am trying to figure this out, that you would join me! Are we building relationships that are loving in our ministries we are a part of? Are we building relationships that are working towards the kingdom? Are we trying to build NEW friendships with people we may not know very well? Are we sitting in our comfort zone of friends and don’t want to reach out and make new ones? Who are we walking through life with? Can we bring anyone else along?

My prayer is that God would be in EVERY relationship and friendship we build as we journey through building KINGDOM & LOVING relationships!

Never Alone - Pastor Lisa Roberson - June 12th, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 @ 3:32 PM

Have you ever spent time on the beach digging around looking for agates, sea glass or a special shell?  It is a treasure hunt.  For a while there is just sand, sand and more sand.  Suddenly, without warning, a treasure.  At first we gently cradled in the palm of our hand followed by drawing it to our eyes for closer inspection.  Then we hold it up to the sunlight for a different view.  With much excitement we call out to our friends, “look what I found!”  They hear the excitement in our voice and come quickly come to see.  The friends respond accordingly.  “Ah, the beauty.” “What a great find.”

          The initial joy is in “the finding,” but true joy is sharing with friends.  We can go it alone, and many have, many times but, oh how much better it is when the experience is shared!  To revel in the joys of life with a friend makes the experience all the richer.  Ecclesiastic 4:9 tells us “two are better than one…”.

          And what about when we face despair?  When we have dragons needing to be slayed, when hurt and hardship come our way?  The burden is easier to bare when a friend is walking alongside, sometimes carrying us through the pain.  Ecclesiastic 4:10 tells us, “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” 

          I think there are times the enemy wants us to believe we are all alone, no one cares, we should never rely on another for they will always let us down.  When we hold these thoughts up to the sun for closer inspection, just like the treasure in the sand, we can see the reality of the lies the enemy wants us to believe and we can throw those lies back into the depths of the ocean where they belong.

          Ecclesiastics 9:12, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”  I pray this week there are reminders from God that you are never alone, I pray this week you are contacted by a friend with loving reminders the two of you are on this journey together.  I pray this week you will be the friend who reaches out letting others know they are not alone.

A Living, Personal Presence - Pastor Bob Luhn - June 5th, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Thursday, June 7, 2018 @ 3:07 PM

I read 2 Corinthians 3:16 Monday morning. After describing the “veil” that remained over the spiritual eyes of people who do not turn to God, Paul then shares the good news of those who do turn to Him. In the Message version he writes, “They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone.”  God is a Person and like all personal relationships sometimes I feel closer to Him and other times very far away. It is natural to have ebbs and flows in any relationship. I love those times when the Lord seems so close that I just want to linger in His presence. That happened for me last Sunday during worship. I really lost awareness of the congregation and was caught up in a sense of His very near presence. I could have basked in that loving warmth all day. Of course there are those other times when I agree with Mother Teresa who often called Jesus, “The Absent One.” Whether He is near or far, whether it is light or dark, God is. He’s a real person and we can talk to Him like any other person, though hearing Him speak back to us is a little more difficult. But He does speak, through His Word, through creation, through the hug of a friend, through a kind word, through a song. God wants to talk with us and make Himself known. He is not a chiseled stone! He is a “living, personal presence” and I for one, seek His presence more than anything else.

Pastor Bob Luhn

 

Memorial Day Reflection - Pastor Bob Luhn - May 29th, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 @ 4:08 PM

As I watched some Memorial Day celebrations on TV yesterday, I was struck again by the hundreds of thousands who have given their lives on a battlefield someplace in order to provide or protect our freedom or the freedom of others. It is an incredible sacrifice! One we must never overlook or take for granted. In Romans 5:7 Paul writes, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.” Many brave men and women have dared to die for a noble cause and we enjoy the fruit of their sacrifice. But Paul goes on to say in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ’s love, Christ’s sacrifice of His life goes beyond anything we could imagine. It would like an American soldier in WW 2 volunteering to die in a Nazi’s place. Dying for your enemies is not the way to win a war. But it is the way that Jesus chose: he chose to die for us while we were still sinners; while we were at our worst, while we were still actively or passively fighting against the loving leadership of God in our lives. So this Memorial Day week, I am reminded of someone who loved me so much that He died in my place while I was far from Him. That is amazing love.

 

Pastor Bob Luhn

Christ In Me... What If We Really Lived This Way? - Pastor Andrew Hickman - May 22nd, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 2:26 PM

Christ In Me…What If We Really Lived this Way?

Over the past couple of weeks I have been leading our Wednesday night Youth Group gatherings through the book of Acts. Last week we got into the discussion of what it would look like if the church today experienced Pentecost the way that the apostles did in the book of Acts. During the discussion one of my favorite songs came to my mind, “Christ In Me” by Tim Timmons. Now there is nothing extraordinary about the song other than the POWERFUL lyrics,

“The same great light that broke the dark, the same great peace that calmed the seas, Hallelujah, is living in me…The same great love that casts out fear, the same compassion that draws us near, Hallelujah, is living in me yeah... And what, what if I believed in Your power, And I really lived it, What, what if I believed, Christ in me, What if I believed, I would lay my worries down, See these hills as level ground, What if I believed, Christ in me, Oh, I would praise You with my life, Let my story lift You high, What if I believed, Christ in me, What if I believed, Christ in me.”

The crazy thing is God has given us the power through the Holy Spirit to live Christ-filled lives, and my-oh-my how different our lives would look if we chose to live this way. The trouble is we don’t always believe that Christ’s power is living within us, we fail to remember that Jesus promised the disciples that He would be with them always even to the end on the age. I find it intriguing how the early church grasped this concept fully, because they were on fire for God, performing many signs and miracles through the power of Christ in Them. And in my intrigue I start to realize that I fall captive to the disbelief of Christ’s power isn’t alive in me, however, I know deep down that it is and I just have to get out of my own way and allow the power of Christ in Me take control.

Here is a link to the song if you would like to take a gander and listen to it. If you do, I encourage you to really allow the words to sink in as you listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwLZRT0j8s8

 

In Christ,

Pastor Andrew

CHANGE YOUR HEART - Pastor Bri Hickman - May 15th, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 @ 4:24 PM

          During my class the last couple Saturdays, we have been talking about holiness and what that means to our denomination, our churches, and ourselves. I have been so intrigued to see how God has been shaping my view of holiness from what it used to be. As most of you probably know, our church is a holiness church and we believe that we are to live lives that are holy. When I was younger, I didn’t quite get that. I didn’t understand what the term holiness meant and I always thought it meant I had to do everything “right” and I couldn’t sin and if I did I was in A LOT of trouble. During this class, God has definitely been working on my heart to show me that holiness isn’t just doing the right things, but it is living a life of LOVE. To do this, it does require a heart change. How easy is it to look at someone who has hurt you over and over and still love them? How easy is it to see the marginalized, and love them the way you love yourself? How easy is it to know someone’s past of self-destruction, and destruction of others and still love them? Not that easy, huh? Here’s the kicker, the holiness movement, and the Old and New Testament shows us that we are to LOVE no matter what. Love is the greatest commandment and it requires work. It requires our hearts to see past the hurt, past the pain, and love them how God loves them. 

 

          As we go on this week, I challenge you and myself to look at who I am not loving. Who am I holding things against and not loving? Are you willing to live a life of holiness and change your heart and love them? I pray that I am, that we are as a church, and that we are as a denomination!  

 

1 John 4:16-19 NLT

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.”

Being More Like Jesus - Pastor Lisa Roberson - May 8th, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, May 8, 2018 @ 2:55 PM

 After a full day of hiking through some of the most beautiful landscape God has created we received the message Dr. Larry Hull had passed away.  This message took my breath away as much as hiking through the side of a mountain at 7,000 feet.  Larry was a member of the Centralia Naz Church where I served for about 7 years.  He was a good man and an amazing follower of Jesus.  After retirement, he and his wife Aarlie bought a coffee plantation in Papua New Guinea to begin working towards fair trade and employment for the local residents.  Oh yeah, and in his free time, set up a medical clinic, school and wells for clean water.  All he did for PNG is not why I deeply respect this man. 

Preaching is scary.  There is monumental responsibility placed upon our shoulders when we stand up front sharing God’s story.  We are to tell it correctly, in a way that engages and encourages all to be more like Jesus.  Through the scariness of preaching on a Sunday, there was one thing I knew I could count on, Monday morning there would always be an email from Larry telling me the good thoughts and thinking points he received from my message and how thankful he was I shared.

This is the paradox of the economy of Jesus, the first shall be last, we come to serve not be served.  And small, barely seen acts of kindness are greater than big acts receiving much attention.  Matthew 6:1 states: "Watch out! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.”  Larry knew this economy well, and though he accomplished many notable things in the eye of the public he also did many wonderful things outside the spot light.

How he lived his life challenges me to be a better follower of Jesus, to do those things which will receive little to no praise or acknowledgement here on earth but will put a smile of the face of Jesus in heaven.  The best way I know to honor Larry is to invite you to join me as I seek to be more like Jesus and to find ways to quietly execute random acts of kindness, to work each day to put a smile on the face of Jesus.  What do you think, want to be a part of this adventure with me?

Blessings, Pastor Lisa Roberson

Make or Break - Pastor Bob Luhn - May 1st, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 @ 10:47 AM

I was so pleased to see the congregation rise and give Pastor Amy Schultz a standing ovation following her resignation statement. That was a class act! Way to go church. You affirmed Amy’s work among you these past two decades. Plus you affirmed her gifts and graces to take on the leadership of the Council, Idaho Church of the Nazarene as solo pastor. Pastor Amy’s last Sunday here will be May 20th and I encourage you to write her a note of appreciation or blessing as she takes up her new assignment.

It is my firm belief that churches make or break pastors. I know when I came to Spokane Valley Church after 20 months in South Dakota, I was a defeated man. I was sure I had misunderstood God’s call upon my life. Surely I was ill-equipped to be a pastor. But the Spokane folks, including my former Sunday School teachers, began calling me “Pastor Bob” one day. They believed in me when I didn’t. They saw graces and calling that I couldn’t detect at all. And slowly, God used their love and belief in me to transform me from a defeated, discouraged, hopeless man into someone who is honestly radically optimistic that God will use me every day. Churches can make a pastor. I’ve seen them destroy pastors as well. Soon, you will have the opportunity to vote on a new pastor. Certainly we want the “perfect man or woman” to lead. But realistically, the only people available as pastors are all flawed human beings desperately in need of God empowering grace. So there is a sense in which it doesn’t matter who comes to lead; he or she will need your prayers, your love, your belief in them, your support, your encouragement, well, you get the picture. Churches make or break pastors. I’m praying that you make the next pastor the best person he/she can be.

Be praying for the Board this week. They have a face to face interview with an excellent candidate. May this conversation help Board and pastor to discern God’s will for all involved.

God’s Grace & Unconditional Love - Pastor Andrew Hickman - April 24th, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 4:10 PM

God’s Grace & Unconditional Love

As I started a new study with our teen’s Guys Group this past Sunday evening on the book of Judges, I was reminded of God’s grace and unconditional love for all of humanity. I remember studying this book in Jr. High at Northwest Christian School in Phoenix, AZ, and the word associated most with Judges in my mind is CYCLES. The Israelites went through cycles of obedience to the Lord, then moral failure led them away from the Lord, and in their depravity cried out to God in repentance, and God showed mercy on them and rescued them. The Israelites did this several times, and time after time God continued to pour out His GRACE & LOVE on them. Furthermore, He continues to pour out His GRACE & LOVE on all of us. I often think while reading through the book of Judges, “WHY DON’T THE ISRAELITES GET IT?” And then I’m quickly reminded by God that I don’t get it right most of the time either, yet He is still compassionate and gracious to me despite all of my shortcomings. Paul reminds us in Romans that we are all sinners, and the punishment for sin is death, but the free gift of God is Grace & Unconditional Love in the form of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Paraphrased Romans 3:23; 6:23)

In Christ,

-Pastor Andrew

Identity in Christ - Pastor Bri Hickman - April 17th, 2018

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 @ 12:58 PM

               Identity in Christ

               As a senior in High School I took an English Class as an elective called “Search for Identity.” We read multiple books and short stories about characters who struggled with their identity. In each of the books, we were required to write an essay describing how it relates to ourselves and our own identity. At the end of the semester, all of those essays were culminated into a big project called “Our Identity Project”. As I prepared each page of the project, I realized that all of my essays related to my identity being in Christ. I was proud that without even realizing throughout the year, each essay somehow related to my identity being found in Christ. As I turned in my scrapbook full of “identity” essays, pictures, and life goals, I was fully rooted in knowing that my identity was found in Christ. A few weeks later we received our grades and comments back. I would have gotten a 100% on my project, but because each paper had something to do with God, I was docked 25% off of my grade. I knew this was wrong, so I went and spoke with my teacher. He explained that the content was great and that each essay related very well with the stories we read, but he thought I needed to not put God in my papers. He thought that I needed to find my identity elsewhere. Long story short, I fought this and went straight to the administration of the school. Eventually, my grade was raised to a 100%, but this was not done without a fight.

                This has me thinking… why in this secular world do people try to make us find our identities in anything other than God? When our lives are surrounded with God and rooted in the fact that we are His Children, everything else the world throws at us shouldn’t matter. God has called us His children and we are sons and daughters of the King. During staff meeting today, Pastor Bob explained the Kingdom of God and the realm of God’s effective will. God doesn’t penetrate into our own will, but instead we are to choose to be in the Will of the Kingdom of God. As Sons and Daughters, we are within the kingdom of God and we are to show other’s that they too are sons and daughters of the King.

                A few months ago as I was scrolling through Facebook, a message popped up from a friend from high school. I knew she was a fellow believer in high school, but she didn’t mention her faith to anyone. She messaged me about how much my faith in high school showed her that she needed to live out her faith no matter the cost. She mentioned our “Identity Projects” and went on and on about how she wished she would have had the courage to write about how her identity was found in Christ. I can’t help but think that this is what we are called to do. We are called to live out our lives and choose to show others that we are followers of Christ, even in difficult situations, in Public Schools, and Public places. How are you showing others your identity today? Are you showing them that your identity is in Christ as a Son or Daughter of the King?

2 Corinthians 6:18
“And, ‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’”

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