It’s like a time-out for your mouth

As we work our way through a Proverbs-a-day I hope you’re beginning to realize the benefits. If you’re just getting started, read today’s Proverb (along with any other regular reading you enjoy) and ask the Lord to give you wisdom from His Word for today.

The goal is to learn from God, to start the day with some quiet and give yourself permission to listen to legit wisdom.

If you have been foolish in exalting yourself

Or if you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth. Pro 30:32

You don’t need to wait until you’ve foolishly exalted yourself or set out to plot the evil. Maybe by rehearsing this verse in your heart and mind, you can catch it before it becomes necessary. Wisdom doesn’t say ‘never speak up’. Wisdom knows the times we need to give our mouth, or keyboard, a time-out.

Have a great day. Even if it’s a little quieter.

Proverbs each day

This morning I challenged our church family to commit to reading one chapter from Proverbs each day, as it correlates with the day of the month. This is not a new idea. I’m sure I’ve talked about it plenty of times before. Today is August 15, so the reading is Proverbs 15.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. Pro 15:1

For those joining me in this challenge. Here are a few tips from my experience in reading a Proverb each day:

  1. Take your time. It’s not about how fast I can get through the days reading.
  2. I like to highlight. Honestly, for a few years I’ve done most of my reading on my ipad. Logos is easy to use and has fascinating highlighting options. Or simply highlight in whatever app you use or better, in your real paper Bible! The reason is because over the years I find myself rereading these passages. New things jump out all the time. Often it’s where I’m at in my life that helps me “listen for” and hear what God is saying through His word.
  3. Keep going. Don’t make a big deal if you miss a day or two or five. Don’t try to make up. Just read the chapter for that day.
  4. Not everyone wants to journal, I’ve learned it’s a great discipline for me. Simply write out a key verse and a thought or prayer. Don’t worry about your writing, just keep doing it, you’ll find your groove. Maybe you simply want to recall one idea or word that is especially helpful to you on that day. Whether you journal or write a highlight online, share it somehow. Maybe I could encourage ‘comments’ on this page for those that want to do this together.

Now, for Chapter 15. I have a bunch of highlights already. This very first verse speaks so closely with what I preached about today. You know, I always have a choice in how I respond, and a gentle answer always wins. Having this verse in my head throughout the day can only be helpful.

As mentioned in church, one of the benefits of a church reading Proverbs together is we may actually see a rise in the wisdom meter for our church and community!

To God be the Glory!

Pastor Mark

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Pr 15:1.

Back to School

Here we go. I’m pretty sure there is no one in our city, ok, in the entire world, that is feeling normal about anything. Back to school is this whole thing. And for many, it’s exciting. Excitement about all the new: new teachers, new supplies, new clothes, new routines, new learning. Fall is supposed to feel like we’re ‘back at it’ after the summer break. Clearly this year is oddly different.

I’m watching all the social media posts of kids going back to school, in creative fun ways. My niece posted one of the best:

Moms and dads, families, students: You got this!

I just want you to know, I’m praying for each of you families as I see your posts about school starting (this week and over the past couple of weeks).

Teachers and everyone in education! You also face challenges you didn’t exactly sign up for. But as the kids and families work to make it all happen, we know you also will make it.

There’s clearly a broad spectrum of how education is happening right now. Let’s encourage one another and pray for one another as we see the Day approaching and as we get through this season that the Lord Jesus is fully aware of. Heb 10:24-25

He’s got you right where you are. Trust Him and live fully in the moment.

Think of someone you can reach out to today and encourage. Pray for them, perhaps send a quick text or even a coffee gift card. Let’s hold each other up. It’s what we do best.

The Prayer.

Some faith traditions recite it.

Some memorized it as kids.

Most pastors have taught it, at least once.

Sometimes it seems like a good “go-to” when you don’t really know what else to pray.

The Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ most famous teaching on prayer is sometimes called The Disciple’s Prayer.

The variation of name is due to Jesus actually teaching the disciples how to pray. That would include us. Perhaps the Lord’s prayer would then be best described in John 17, or even His brief prayer in the Garden. For now, we’ll agree that what we know as the Lord’s Prayer given in the Sermon on the Mount serves us as a model for praying today.

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’.

NASU (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Mt 6:9–13.

It’s good to read and re-read. It’s great to think on and even memorize.

One good exercise is to say each phrase and pause. Pause for as long as you’d like. Think about that one phrase and the realities of it. Think of His words for us as going back to Him for His glory and for our good. Go ahead. Give it a try. Don’t be in a rush. It’s especially helpful if you’re out on a walk, run, row or just swinging in your hammock.

I’d love to hear from you how it went. Comment below. Even if you don’t, I hope you’ll be blessed. PM

My Leap-Year Mother

Today my mom would be 96.  Actually she’d only be celebrating her 24th birthday.  I think of my mom often. At least every Mother’s Day, and usually February 28th.

In my family, it’s not uncommon for any one of us at any given time to say something like, “Well, I’m a Smith after all”.  Honestly, we don’t always mean that in a super-positive way. We’re usually expressing a strong opinion, or showing our ability to exercise impatience, or simply just being kinda loud about something.

My dad was a really good dad.  He was a great preacher, missionary and leader among those he worked with and those who knew him well. However, he was not known for being patient, nor was he the quiet, passive type.  He was affectionately known as “Big Jim” by pastors and church members of the places he and mom visited as missionaries. I often wondered if people called him that for more than being a tall man.  If he was in the room, everyone in the room knew it. And I love him for all that and so much more. 

Today, I woke up thinking about mom.  Helen Josephine Darling.  And I wondered why we never said, “after all, I am a Darling”.  I know the last name is carried on by the father’s line. I get that. But I do see a lot of the “Darling” in my siblings as well as the stronger, more dominant, “Smith”. I’m thankful the Lord gave us both!

Mom was quieter. She was a worker. She was patient and kind. Always made room for whoever was going to show up.  She loved her kids. She was always present, always active. Her ten kids were never in the house all at the same time (thank goodness!), but there was always a full table. She kept the entire operation moving along.

We’ve all shared various memories of mom over the years, since her death at age 63. Most recall as kids coming down what seemed like a long hallway in the early morning to find mom sitting in her chair by the front window with her Bible and her Daily Bread devotional book.  I don’t remember her talking a lot about it. She just did it.

This morning I read Proverbs 29:23  “A humble spirit will obtain honor.”

Today, along with my 7 remaining siblings and a host of grands and great-grands, we honor mom.  I would like to be known as a “Darling” as much as anything.  Wouldn’t you? I miss her.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Gal 5:22–23

Luke For Christmas

Along with many others, I saw various challenges put out to read the Gospel of Luke during the month of December.  One chapter a day, finishing on Dec 24th. Since our church has been going through Luke’s Gospel for sometime, I thought it a great plan to read familiar passages each day.

Like the other Gospels, Luke ends with the resurrection and ascension of Christ.  Yesterday, the 23rd, I was reminded of the cruel cross and the evil plot of the enemy to silence once and for all the Son of God. That move by hateful people was superseded by the very gracious plan of God all along.

Jesus was born to die. So that when we die, we live.

Repeatedly in Luke, we’re told why He came and what would come of His journey to Jerusalem.

Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”  Luke 24:6-7, 44

I love the story of Jesus on the road to Emmaus.  The best part was when the men realized who they’d been listening to along the way.  Later that same day Jesus appeared to the other disciples and the same thing happens. Here’s how Luke says it:

30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.

45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  Luke 24:30-31, 45–47

By the telling of the story of Christ through all the Scriptures, by the breaking of bread (how familiar that must have seen!) and the prayer of Jesus, He opened their eyes. When Jesus again articulates His complete mission in vs 46, He then leaves them with the commission to carry it forward. Our eyes have been opened.

Are we helping others see Jesus?

Imagine, watching the Son of God ascend into the heavens.

Reading that on Dec 24th as we gather to celebrate His first coming reminds us of the mission. To look for His coming and tell everyone about repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Merry Christmas, with eyes wide open for His return!

 

 

Twins for a week

Remembering Sandra

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Today, my younger sister would have turned 57.  I’ll turn 58 in a few days. My sweet sister passed away this past year on May 29th.

It was a Sunday morning in 1962. My mother knew it was time. My eldest sister, Janet took care of things on the homefront while mom and dad made their way to the hospital. It would not be until the evening when 15 year old Janet would get a call saying that she had a new baby sister but not to get too excited because she may not make it home.

Sandra was born with a hole in her heart. The doctors in 1962 were not too optimistic.  Thankfully, Sandra Kay did come home.

Like all of her siblings, she grew up knowing the love of godly parents and a home that made a priority of knowing Christ and being faithful to His work, in missions, in the local church, in all of life.

Sandra loved life. She laughed easily.

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She loved Jesus and the church and being a part of whatever was going on. Sandra mostly loved to sing. She loved hymns and choirs and any chance to participate in singing.  After her funeral, the family gathered and sang a few hymns around the piano. While we struggled to remember all the words it didn’t escape any of us that it was Sandra we missed. She new all the words. Of all the verses.

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I miss my sister. I know God’s ways are greater than ours. Instead of wondering why she died so young, I choose to praise Him that she came home from that hospital and lived an amazing life that impacted hundreds of people through her love of teaching and singing and brightening up every room she ever walked entered!

Sandra’s favorite dessert was cookies. So today I enjoyed a cookie. Okay, maybe two.  Sandra would have it that way.

Counting down

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days until we board the plane for Israel!

32

days until Grace Community celebrates our 25th anniversary

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days until we meet again for Sunday Worship

 

My wife taught me an important lesson in how to take a vacation.

PLAN IT.

It’s no secret, I don’t mind “winging it” here and there. But when it comes to a vacation, there are many reasons to plan ahead. Not the least of which is to anticipate.

When we look out ahead and start counting, we anticipate.

I anticipate finishing a degree program I’m in.

I anticipate going to Israel.

I anticipate our church gathering at Pepsi Amphitheater for our 25th anniversary.

And, I anticipate gathering with our church family, each and every Sunday. Like we’ve been doing for 25 years.

What do you anticipate?

How does anticipating, counting down the days, help you be ready?

What are you looking forward to?

Here’s one thing I’m looking forward to more than anything else…

 

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Therefore comfort one another with these words.

New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), 1 Th 4:16–18.

Come to Israel with Grace Community

I really am excited about the group that is forming for our trip to Israel this October. And, I’d love for you to join us!

We’ll be flying out of Phoenix on October 3, returning on the 13th.  We’ll see many of the significant sites around Israel from the life of Christ. You’ll see places you’ve read about in both the Old and New Testaments.  It truly is an amazing experience.

This Sunday right after our morning service at Grace Community, we’ll have another “Israel Trip Information” meeting. This is the place to learn more about the trip and have your questions answered.  For those already signed up, please come and meet the others and I’ll give some tips on what to do to be prepared.  If you can’t make it, but are interested in the trip, please comment below or click for the brochure and information here. 

If you or someone you know might enjoy the opportunity to walk the land that Jesus walked, please come on Sunday and find out how to make it happen.

You can find our brochure and all the needed information by clicking here.

I’ve been praying for the group that the Lord is putting together to experience this amazing trip.  Please let me know if you have any questions.