Moving Forward...Adjusting Focus

From "My Reflections on San Francisco"

From "My Reflections on San Francisco"

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2013 was a good year.  If nothing else the fact that I am writing and you are reading makes it good.  We are blessed with another day.  However, we cannot help but look back and re-watch the highs and lows we lived out in the previous twelve months.  As I recall last year and dream about the next I believe that I spent too much energy focusing on the wrong things.  I am not a negative person or an overly optimistic one; I prefer to think of myself as a realist.  I accept things as they are positive or negative but I am also a person of great faith and that means regardless of current circumstances I wholeheartedly trust that God has our best days ahead of us.  No matter what is going on, I firmly believe it is all part of a bigger plan and that plan always works out for our best according to His will (Romans 8:28).  So, here is my dilemma; when I am presented with a new set of circumstances, do I focus on the positive or negative that comes with every new situation?  Let me be specific.  I focused more on my “have not’s” than I did on my “haves” especially in my role as a Pastor.  Here is where I pray for change in 2014, I pray that;
  •         I will focus less on “what could be” and focus more on “what is”.
  •       I will focus less on where we have been and focus more on where we are going.
  •         I will focus less on what has been broken and focus more on what is being built.
  •         I will focus less on our challenges and focus more on our victories.
  •         I will focus less on my weaknesses and focus more on His strength.
My hope is that we all focus on the positive in every situation and not get distracted and slowed down by focusing on the things that we cannot change.   In other words, let’s find the blessing in everything and spend some time savoring it.  When we focus on His blessings we lose focus on our shortcomings and challenges. 
Happy 2014!

Contributed by:  Pastor Gary

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I Bring You Good News

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[quote author="Luke 2:8-14 (NLT)"]8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”[/quote]

 

The betrayal of a loved one is one of the worst feelings we can have. Love is a big word because it encompasses so many emotions. Have you ever loved someone and later found out that they betrayed you?

The person that you cared about more than anyone else, sacrificed your goals and passions for, shared your deepest dreams and fears with, the person you envisioned spending the rest of your life with has taken all of your love and discarded it. That is pain. So what do we do?

In this situation you have 3 options:

  • You can seek justice and make them pay for the pain they have caused you. To seek justice and retribution will almost always be our default reaction to the pain we feel when someone we love is unfaithful. The pain is so severe that we want the person or persons responsible to pay for the anguish we feel. It causes us to harden our hearts as our focus turns to vengeance and justice. We want nothing to do with them. Our reciprocation of love has been replaced with the reciprocation of pain.

 

  • You can try to reconcile the relationship; forgive them. The deeper the love you have for this person then the deeper the pain of the betrayal is. The damage of betrayal makes it even more challenging to regain the trust and love you once shared. For forgiveness to occur, you will have to fight back the urge for revenge. You will have to absorb that deep desire you have for justice. By not seeking vengeance you will have a new pain. Literally, you will pay the debt they owe with your your pain. Tim Keller puts it like this “Forgiveness means refusing to make them pay for what they did. However, to refrain from lashing out at someone when you want to do so with all your being is agony. It is a form of suffering. You not only suffer the original loss of happiness, reputation, and opportunity, but now you forgo the consolation of inflicting the same on them. You are absorbing the debt, taking the cost of it completely on yourself instead of taking it out of the other person. It hurts terribly.” Forgiveness is the only way reconciliation can happen.

 

  • You can accept the circumstances and amicably go your separate ways.

 

Many of us understand the pain of betrayal. We know the deep rooted pain that occurs when love and trust are broken. Sometimes we focus so much on the pain of betrayal that we overlook the idea that we too are betrayers. We too can be the source of this pain in another's life. Some are thinking "not me" but consider this. When we make our deepest desire and love the pursuit of anyone or thing than God we are being unfaithful to God and His love for us. we betray God. We are taking his love and telling him that we have found something better to give ourselves to. The pain we cause God is infinitely deeper than the pain we feel by our own betrayals because God’s love for us is infinitely greater than the love we can express.

There is no way our finite and sinful selves could ever earn back righteous standing with an eternal and Holy God who’s love is infinite.

What we deserve for our betrayal of God is death and an eternity separated from Him who is the source of all joy, all love, wisdom, and goodness. God created us to be with him, because that is the only way we can reach our full potential, and without His presence we would be left to our own devices and realize our capacity to become our worst. We would go on forever without being able to give or receive joy, love, wisdom, or goodness. In the end, God will give those who don't choose Him what they want.

 

The option that God chooses to deal with our unfaithfulness is our Good News.

 

The Good News is that God hasn’t come to seek justice and repay us for our betrayal, the justice we rightfully deserve for betraying the faithfulness of an infinitely holy and loving God.

The Good News that the angel harolds is that God doesn't leave us to our foolish ways of seeking our greatest love and joy from things that enslave us by making us think that more things will bring us the true joy and love our souls desire.

The Good News that makes the angels sing is that God has come to free us from our slavery and reconcile us to Himself, for He is the only source of true joy and love.

The Good News we proclaim is that God has come to pay the debt we could not pay, at the greatest cost to Himself, so that we may be made right with God.

 

[quote author="Timothy Keller, The Reason For God"]“the Great Reversal. God, in the place of ultimate power, reverses places with the marginalized, the poor, and the oppressed. The prophets always sang songs about God as one who has “brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the poor” (Luke 1: 52), but never could they have imagined that God himself would come down off his ultimate throne and suffer with the oppressed so that they might be lifted up.”[/quote]

“The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David”

 

 

Contributed by: Jose Caban

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John 7:40-44

This week your child heard the story of Jesus in John 7:40-44 with the people becoming divided over what to believe about Him. The Scriptures says, "On hearing his words, some of the people said, "Surely this man is the Prophet." 41 Others said, "He is the Messiah. Still others asked, "How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David's descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?" 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him." It's seems like all too often we become overwhelmed with the facts as well. The people in Jesus time were looking at the Scriptures and seeing the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem but were not looking enough at Jesus to believe and see that He was in fact the Son of God and what they had been waiting for! It is so easy to get caught up in our own thoughts or even becoming so overwhelmed with what scripture says that we forget the importance of stopping and taking a moment to step back and ask Jesus to clarify for us the truth of what His word is trying to teach us and allow to share with others. This week take some time to talk with your child about the importance of asking God to reveal His Word to us that we may clearly understand. Take some time to spend with your child thinking about questions you have about the Scriptures. Work together to look through the Word and discover what is being revealed to us through God's inspired words.

Jump

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One of my fondest memories as a child was jumping into my father’s arms.  We lived in a bi-level home and my dad would stand in the entrance way of our home at the base of our stairs and I would run through the kitchen toward him and at the top of the staircase I would leap straight off and into my dad’s open arms at the bottom of the stairs.  For just a brief second, I felt like I could fly.   I would back up further and further hoping that the more speed I would gain, the longer my flight would last.  This pattern of takeoff, flight and landing could go on for a long time.   As I grew older I often looked back and wondered why my dad would invite such a strenuous activity especially considering that I have four siblings; this would almost always turn into a group activity.  We kids knew for certain that our five pairs of young legs could outlast his one pair of arms.   There is just something special about a child leaping into their father’s arms.  I carried this on with my two boys as they would want to jump off of anything into my arms whether it was a dresser, counter top, ladder and even the stair case.   As a father I am now on the receiving end and I have learned a very important lesson.  This lesson is that as much fun as it was for me to feel like I was flying as a child, it was more special for my father who was catching us.  I realized this special joy the first time my son took a leap into my arms; I enjoyed this more than he did.  It was like a light bulb went off in my head, this is why my dad would invite us to jump…he wanted to catch us.   I can’t help but think that our Heavenly Father is the same way.  He continually asks us to jump not just so we get to experience the exhilaration of feeling that we can fly; but so that He can experience the joy of catching His children.  As you and I stand on the edge and feel the call to take a leap of faith…are we willing to jump into the arms of our loving God  who is standing just below with open arms ready to catch and protect us?