Posts categorized Gratitude
The aftershocks of a major earthquake seem to be more intense within the human soul than they are in the earth beneath.
Nothing opens the consciousness to our total powerlessness as the earth uncontrollably moving like ocean waves for what seems like an eternity.
One helpful thing from such huge seismic movement is the shocking core awareness of personal powerlessness.
Why is this helpful? Because it points us, no, it drives us to the only Reality in the universe who never did, doesn’t now and never will have even a nanosecond of powerlessness.
We meet this non-powerlessness Person in Revelations 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
I’m no expert in post-earthquake recovery but I do have a couple of ideas I think may be helpful.
- Feel comfortable to say and feel the words, “I felt so powerless.” Or, “It was scary because there was nothing I could do.”
- Place high priority upon spending time with people who love you.
- Rest in remembering that NOTHING shakes the Unshakeable, Unmovable, Unwavering Almighty God.
- Get back into your normal life patterns (if they are healthy) and stay active, engaged and productive.
An abiding relationship with the Almighty God, through His Son Jesus, sends the soul’s aftershocks, not into our sense of personal well-being, but into the never powerless, always Almighty God.
What is a person to do when life is slower than expected and God is silent? Many of the folks talking to me are saying things like…
“I really thought I would have a job by now.”
“My recovery isn’t going as quickly as I had expected.”
“After all of the praying I’ve been doing, I expected this relationship to be much more improved than it is.”
Many times life is remarkably slower than anticipated. Denials, delays, setbacks, and slow progress often dog the weary pilgrim.
“I really don’t mind if God says yes or no. I just want him to say something. I can’t take this silence!”
Which is more difficult? Slowness or silence?
The gap between my life as it really is and what I had hoped it to be is sometimes a huge chasm. Following are a few “GAP Strategies.”
The speed of life and the silence of God need not stop me from taking personal responsibility to continue to grow. I can always, by God’s grace, shift the focus of my personal growth away from those things that are out of my control. If my vehicle doesn’t run, I can thank God for the opportunity to develop my cardio as I walk.
When I was nearly paralyzed by PTSD, I decided that at least I could grow spiritually through reading the Psalms. I read Psalms every day, several times a day, and then listened to the Psalms all through the night.
Life may be slower than I had anticipated and God may be silent but I can continue to grow.
No one, absolutely no one, can rob me of my capacity to activate things in my life. One of history’s greatest vocalists, Andrea Bocelli, is blind. So he sits home in depression and bitterness, right? WRONG! He activated his personal choices and determined to be an amazing skier, cyclist, roller blade guru, and horseback rider.
If I can’t move my leg, I can wiggle my toes. In every silent and slow delay I have been endued with the capacity to activate many other things. I can move from nouns to verbs.
I am learning to be present in the present. When things are going much slower than I had hoped and God isn’t talking, I can enjoy the friendship of Copper, our little Yorkie, right here, right now. We too often get taken to another time and another place rather than being mindful of this moment and space.
What is happening right here, right now? Don’t let slowness or silence rob you of the superb things available for your experience in the present. Are you in a hospital bed at this very moment? Look out the window and see if there is a rainbow, or a cool cloud, or an eagle, or some other fascinating gift from God.
If life is rolling slower than expected and God is silent, remember this simple GAP strategy. Grow. Activate. Present.
The news out of St. Louis County regarding the tensions there are further signs of how much the individual and collective human heart needs a complete transformation by the work of Jesus. As buildings burned, people ransacked and looted, and many were arrested, I watched a Caucasian women say, “I don’t know what all the noise is about. There are no racial tensions here in Ferguson.”
Clearly, not everyone sees the world the way she does.
When different perspectives intersect different deeply held beliefs difficulty abounds. Interestingly, every position claims that God is on their side.
Two definitions come to mind – race and ethnicity.
Race is genetic. In our DNA. God given. Unchangeable. With Darrell and Clairena as my parents, my race would be the same if I was born in China, Israel, or Burkina Faso.
Ethnicity is learned. It is about traditions, culture, and behaviors. Ethnicity is changeable.
MCA Church is moving forward in “keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3)” by learning what I call “race and ethnicity humility.” Following the Biblical command to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than your selves,” (Philippians 2:3) includes race and ethnicity! In humility I am to count other races as more significant than mine. Humbling myself before other ethnicities is a must.
Personally, my race is Caucasian and much of my ethnicity is Inupiat.
For me it isn’t real difficult to consider other races as more significant than mine, but it is a HUGE challenge to honor other ethnicities above my own. For example, my Inupiat ethnicity is steeped in the power of feasting as worship. After a successful hunting season in which God has provided whales, moose, caribou, fish, seals, walrus, and ducks, EVERYTHING stops for the feast. Naluqatak, the Barrow, Alaska Whaling Festival, is among the yearly highlights of celebration to God for His bountiful provisions.
With joy, I brought Naluqatak to MCA Church on Thanksgiving Day. I was so excited to have an MCA Church wide feast celebrating the goodness and bounty of the Lord. To my total surprise, the people of my own race thought it to be the dumbest and most family unfriendly idea they had ever heard. “What? You want us to leave our suburban homes where we gather on Thanksgiving with our family? You are crazy! Thanksgiving is a day to stay home with family.”
At that moment I realized that I am, by birth, a white guy. I am by upbringing, an Inupiat.
Deep in my soul I felt that those who disagreed with me about Thanksgiving being a church-wide feast unto the Lord were anti-ministry, anti-church family, and anti-love one another. Now I know that there are more than just one way to celebrate God’s bounty. I must admit, because ethnicity runs so deep in my soul, I still think the church-wide feast unto the Lord is better and more spiritual than “cloistering” in our middle and upper class homes.
This is clearly an opportunity for me to practice ethnicity humility.
MCA Church continues to become a collection of people from many races and even more ethnicities. By God’s grace we are learning to consider other’s race and ethnicity as better than our own. You, your race, and your ethnicity are deeply loved, valued, and appreciated in our Church family.
I can’t bring much change to the situation in Ferguson but I can humbly consider the races and ethnicities with whom I interact as better than my own.
Race and ethnic humility is my starfish. I can’t change the whole beach but I can make a difference for this one.
Eureka! We now have in place an online giving system that meets all of the requests we have received from our generous, committed, and energetic donor family. Our three most common requests have been:
- May I set up a recurring gift to a specific account (such as Tithe, Capital Campaign, Global Outreach, or the Boaz Operation)?
- May I view my contribution record to see my giving?
- May I give using my credit or debit cards?
You may be delighted to know that all of these features and more are included in the new MCA Church Online Giving system. If you prefer, you may continue to give through PayPal on our online giving page. However, we think you will LOVE the new system.
I just set up my MCA Church Giving Account and it took me less than three minutes. When you direct your web browser to our online giving page you will see the following.
To set up your personal MCA Church Online Giving Account, click on the “Log In To GIve” button. When you do, you will see the following.
Click on the “Sign Up” line in the lower right corner. There you will give your email address, set up a password, and be on your way to a superb online giving experience.
On the Online Giving Home Page, we have several helpful articles on the left side bar that will answer most of your questions.
If you would like assistance, please call the MCA Church office, 907 337 9495 and ask for the accounting office.
Blessings to each of you and if we can provide other services to be helpful to you let me know, because we want your participation at MCA Church to be easy and enjoyable.
I am speaking tonight at a pre-tournament worship service for the Island Revival 2nd Annual Softball Tournament. What is the essence of competition? When the lights dim, the crowds disperse, the event is over and you are all alone with your thoughts…what will matter then?
Competition really isn’t about winning; it is about excelling as a person within the competition.
If competition is about winning, any means is justified. Win in any way, at any cost, regardless of character, integrity, and honesty.
Today, in particular, this is of interest. Roger Clemens was found not-guilty of lying to Congress (and many other charges) about cheating in sports with steroids and human growth hormones. Roger has been a remarkable winner. The question was simply, did he excel as a person with the competition or did he go outside of the competition?
For our Island Revival Softball Tournament let’s use 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 as the competition within which we excel at softball.
4. No envy
5. No boasting
6. No pride
7. No dishonor of others
8. No self-seeking
9. No easy anger
10. No record of wrongs
11. Rejoice with the truth
Following are the notes from my message, “Give It.”
Eucharisteo: Fully Alive. Here. Now.
Give It. (Mark 14:22, 23)
We are on a quest to discover if it is possible to be fully alive, here, and now.
Possibly the ultimate opposite of being fully alive, here, and now, is the taking of one’s own life. For example, the suicide rate among active duty US Army soldiers hit an all time high in 2011. Following are some interesting concepts from the Army’s study of this situation:
• Invisible wounds that remain undetected
• Suffering in silence
These two realities “manifest” in:
• 54 percent increase in alcohol abuse associated with domestic violence.
• 43 percent of active-duty soldiers reported binge drinking within the past month.
• 25-35 percent of wounded soldiers are addicted to prescription or illegal drugs while they await medical discharge.
We learn, in the eucharisteo life, to receive life, as God allows it to come to us, with a deeply held sense of gratitude, appreciation, and thankfulness. Mark 14:22, 23
What word is commonly connected with thanks? Give. 48 times, the Bible states thankfulness is something one gives.
• Give from what or from where? Give from a heart of true gratitude.
• Give to whom? Give to God, others, and to yourself.
• Give thanks for what? In everything, give thanks.
In our pain, we want to receive, but the Bible models that in our pain we continue to give.
In our pain we think the part equals the whole, but the Bible models that the part rarely equals the whole.
Pain is loud. We often only hear the voice of pain rather than the voice of God.
The miracle is after the gift is given!
Lazarus John 11:41
Feeding of 4,000 Mark 8:6,7 (Twice)
Feeding of the five thousand Matt. 14:19
As you approach your personal devotional time at the crosses today, ask yourself the following:
• Do I have invisible wounds that remain undetected?
• Do I suffer in silence?
• In my ordinary days, extraordinarily difficult days, and extraordinarily delightful days, am I giving the gift of thanks?
• In my ordinary days, extraordinarily difficult days, and extraordinarily delightful days, am I remembering others?
MCA LIFE Groups
Connecting with One Another
1. What feelings does springtime stir in you?
2. What is your most exciting hope for this summer?
Digging Deeper into the Weekend Talk
1. In 2 Chronicles 7: 1-3 we see the glory of God coming upon the Temple. In verse 6 we see the giving of thanks. In this passage, what is the relationship between giving thanks and God’s glory, and between giving thanks and dedication?
2. What does Hebrews 4:13 teach about our “invisible wounds?”
3. What does Hebrews 4:15 reveal about Jesus and our invisible wounds?
4. What does Hebrews 4:16 train us to do with our wounds?
Give time for several people in your life group to give thanks.
Following are my message notes for the introduction message to the series:
Eucharisteo: Fully Alive. Here. Now.
Following are the questions this teaching series investigates:
Is there a way for me to experience the abundant life of Jesus Christ all day, every day? Can I be fully alive, here, now?
MCA Church answers with a resounding YES! And the pathway to this promise is Holy Communion.
MCA Church, recognizing the priority and power of Holy Communion, invites worshippers to the Lord’s Table in every weekend worship experience.
How does a piece of bread and a cup of juice become something of gigantic value in our daily lives? What is that added value?
Within the Holy Communion experience is a component of the mystery of Christian life and faith.
• 1 Timothy 3:9
• 1 Timothy 3:16
Mystery, in the Bible, is different from mystery today.
“The NT use of the term mystery has reference to some operation or plan of God hitherto unrevealed. It does not carry the idea of a secret to be withheld, but of one to be published…The term mystery, moreover, comprehends not only a previously hidden truth, presently divulged, but one that contains a supernatural element that still remains in spite of the revelation.” The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary
The core experience of Holy Communion is the giving of thanks. Mark 14: 22-25
The giving of thanks, in Mark 14:23 is the Greek word, eucharisteo.
Eucharisteo (giving thanks) is closely related to, in the original language, grace and joy.
Is there a way for me to experience the abundant life of Jesus Christ all day, every day? Can I be fully alive, here, now?
The Bible declares, “YES!” In a three-worded chord that is not easily broken we experience the abundant life of Jesus Christ.
Eucharisteo Thankfulness Colossians 3:17
Charis Grace Romans 5:2
Chara Joy 1 Peter 1:8
In our response time today, we will be singing “Thank You.” The lyrics include twelve different things, specifically mentioned, for which we are thankful.
We are confident that God has spoken to you through the worship, the friendships, and the presentation of the Bible message. This is now your time to respond to God.
Will you respond by placing your trust in Jesus for salvation? If so, at the cross say a prayer of commitment to Jesus and leave a note saying you have done so.
Will you respond by initiating thanksgiving? If so, at the cross say a prayer of thanksgiving and leave a note of thanks.
As you receive the bread and juice of Holy Communion, allow your heart to fill with deep appreciation.
I am noticing that many folks’ “Fruit of the Spirit” basket has been robbed by the stresses of the now famous Christmas Complexity Fatigue Syndrome. They sure love Jesus but they are, at best, grouchy, and at worst showing fits of rage (which is a fruit of a different spirit).
I am aware of the “reasons” people have for their lack of the Spirit’s fruit, but, in the end it is always simply a lack of intimacy with the Fruit Producer.
Approximately 3,000 people (about 1 percent of Anchorage’s population) claim that MCA is their home church. 3,000 folks whose Christmas Fruit Basket is full of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, kindness, self control, and faithfulness, will rapidly impact the entire environment of the community.
When people reach into your Christmas Fruit Basket may they not get the rotten and nasty fruit of the wrong spirit, but instead find the glorious work of the Holy Spirit.
After hanging out with you, are people more loving, joyful, and peaceful? Or are they more selfish, sad, and stressed?
Here is my take. If your basket is full of grouch, bitterness, and pride, please put a lid on it and enjoy it all to yourself. On the other hand, if your basket is full of the Spirit’s fruit, then take the lid off and share it with the world.
Don’t let the stresses of the season take you away from your time with the Spirit of God. Read, pray, reflect, and meditate upon the things of God and watch the good fruit grow.
One of my heroes, Hudson Taylor, was fond of saying, “Where God guides, God provides.” I too have found the provision of God to be ample for the work He has designed for me to do. Following is a poem (whose author is unknown) that captures the guiding and providing aspects of our Father.
I’d rather walk in the dark with God
Than go alone in the light;
I’d rather walk by faith with Him
Than go alone by sight. –Anon.
Be encouraged today. God is providing! My friend, Caleb McAfee, has given light to the subject of God’s provision by saying, “Biblical prosperity is having more than enough to accomplish God’s plan.” God will come through for you and for His vision for you. You will have more than enough to get God’s plan for your life accomplished.
We are thankful for those who are investing in the vision of the MCA worship community at year’s end. There are so many opportunities simply waiting for us to grab onto them for God’s glory. Provision is part of what is needed for this to happen.
As you reflect over your resources for 2011, will you consider a hefty year-end investment into the ministry of Muldoon Community Assembly? Every gift is greatly needed for the purpose of advancing the vision. God guides and provides both to us and through us. May my giving be part of the answer to the prayers for provision for all of our missionaries, ministries, and opportunities. You may give online here.
If you chose to send a check, please mail to Muldoon Community Assembly, 7041 DeBarr Road, Anchorage, Alaska, 99504.
Stay blessed and continue to be a blessing.