Home Sweet Home

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Home Sweet Home!

It's nice to travel and to go on vacation. To get away from home, relax, and reset. That's the whole point, it's fun! But, when the vacation is through, it's always good to be home. Home at your own house with your own bed and your own kids. My wife and I had the opportunity to go to a marriage conference in Branson, Missouri last weekend. Now, that may not sound like your idea of a vacation. Sitting in a room with 500 married couples taking notes about how to have a better marriage? You've got to be kidding me. Well, the best thing about going to a conference in Branson is adding a day on the front and back to do the fun things of Branson. One of those fun things we had a chance to do was a trip out to Silver Dollar City.

If you've never been to Silver Dollar City, I'll try and set the scene. It's an amusement park that's equally appealing to retirees as it is to children. It's a Six Flags with better shows. Don't sleep on the salt water taffy, and be ready to walk. A lot. There's music, comedy, and in general lots of fun. One of the best shows they had the weekend we were there was called Paint Jam. You may have seen them on a daytime tv shows like Ellen or even in this clip from the Super Bowl a few years back.

A young man named Ricardo was filling in for Dan Dunn at the performance we caught, and Ricardo was phenomenal! Energetic, entertaining, affable, and a great painter. After running down some classic performance pieces like a bald eagle and the Beatles, Ricardo dedicated his final piece to his niece. Imagine my surprise when after all of the Beatles songs and Kid Rock, I next heard worship music!

An energetic, passionate painter creating an image of my Lord and Savior complete with a crown of thorns accompanied by worship music? It was powerful. The song declared that the Cross changes everything. At a Paint Jam show in the middle of the afternoon, I witnessed an image and a sound connecting my emotion to my belief. Ricardo ministered that day. He shared the Gospel message with 300 people in an amusement park on a cool afternoon. 

 Artist Ricardo Barazza performing at Silver Dollar City's Paint Jam.

Artist Ricardo Barazza performing at Silver Dollar City's Paint Jam.

1 Peter 4:11 says this, "If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."

May you and I do all things in such a way that God may be praise through Jesus Christ our Lord. May our actions, our words, and our bearing reflect the simple truth that the Cross changes everything. Just like Ricardo, let us use our skills and opportunities to impact those around us with the Good News that the Cross changes everything.

God Bless.
Pastor Josh

Spring Cleaning for the Soul

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The last Saturday of February, we had a men’s fellowship breakfast up at the church. After eating some phenomenal juevos rancheros, we divided up and went to work cleaning different areas of the church. This probably comes as a shock to my parents, but I do actually know how to clean!

Because there were a lot of us, I took on the task of dusting corners and evicting any spiders that may have been moving into the church. I made my way around the building, duster in hand, feeling pretty proud of myself. And then, it happened. I found a face full of dust.

Now, I’m not implying that the church doesn’t get cleaned regularly. I AM saying that the top of that decorative window frame that’s 10 feet in the air probably hadn’t been dusted in a while. As the dust rained down on me, I flashed back to all the other things that have dusted me before.

Ceiling fans, tops of televisions, fast food menu boards, even the shelves where the old instruments were stored at Angelo State. It was like my life flashed before my eyes, but it was only the dirty, dusty moments that flashed back to me.

Let’s face it, we’ve all looked up on occasion and discovered a vent that was dirty and we don’t know how long it’s been that way. Or found a ceiling fan that we never suspected was filthy. It sneaks up on you, because it’s not something you’re focused on. It’s the classic case of out of sight, out of mind.

The next day, at our Unity Service, Pastor Tommy gave a sermon about the Lord’s Supper. He reminded us of the importance of reflection. You see, our Christian walk is just like our homes. Without regular introspection, we might lose sight of the little things that are gathering dust.

The Apostle Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians 13:5. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” If Christ Jesus is in us, the Light of the World is illuminating every corner of our lives. Don’t shy away from a long hard look in the mirror. Examine your heart. See if there are any thoughts or feelings you have let grow that aren’t worthy of being in the presence of Christ.

Paul wrote in Romans that the sacrifice we give as Christians is our very lives. Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Don’t let your sacrifice be tainted by holding onto sin or refusing to let Jesus change your heart. Be moldable. Let yourself grow daily more and more like Jesus.

And the more we are like Jesus, the less dust we’ll have to be ashamed of when somebody comes along and shakes us up a bit.

-Pastor Josh

Rest for the Weary

The year is drawing to an end. 2017 is racing headlong into the New Year with an unrelenting thirst for speed. Or, so it seems. Just yesterday was Thanksgiving, but tomorrow is Christmas. Last week we sent the kids back to school! I have no idea where the year has gone, but gone it has. And you know what? I need a break from this crazy year.

I'm tired. I need, to put it in a Christmassy context, a "long winter's nap." I was speaking with a gentleman earlier today that wanted to know something that would help him get over this hump he was struggling with, but the best advice I had to give him was to press on. "Don't give up," I said. "Don't quit doing the right thing just because something easier comes along." And for those of us that are tired here at the end of the year, I still say, don't give up. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3:13, "As for you brothers, do not grow weary in doing good."

So, for those of you who are tired of the way this year has gone, don't give up. For someone who has been working on developing their good habits, working on living life with a kingdom mindset, don't give up. Do not grow weary in the things of the Lord. Whatever frustration you may be having with your situation, whatever work has done, or life has thrown at you, continue to follow after our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus is so good to us, faithful to forgive us when we falter. He has told us to give Him our burdens. "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

There is rest for the weary, in Jesus Christ. Don't give up, and don't despair. Place your burdens on Jesus, and continue to walk the walk.

Blessings to you, and Merry Christmas.

Pastor Josh

Give Thanks

American Thanksgiving might just be my favorite holiday. There's a tradition in my mother's family to get together every year and rotate who hosts. We've been doing it since 1984, so I literally cannot remember a Thanksgiving where my mom's side of the family hasn't gathered for laughter, joy, and giving thanks.

Turkey and dressing is my personal favorite meal, so adding Grandma Powell's teacakes and some pumpkin pie totals out to the best food day of the year. But while that's good, I honestly find myself looking forward to my uncle's corny jokes and the annual Scrabble game more than the food. Being together is the highlight of the holiday.

Humans in general are not good at being alone. We're designed to live in community. Psalm 133 is a very short psalm, but it hits the nail on the head. "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore."

If you don't have a family tradition, or circumstances have dictated that you aren't able to be with your family and friends this holiday, I hope that you'll reach out to someone. Call a local friend, get with someone else's family, and be part of what they do. Don't miss this opportunity to rejuvenate your soul in fellowship with others. Take a chance to declare what God has done for you, and to praise Him for the change in your life. Psalm 75:1 is my theme verse for this holiday. "We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds."

Be blessed, and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Pastor Josh