Monthly Archives: January 2015

New Year’s Contentment!

By Pastor Vern Kratz

I really do mean it when I say “Happy New Year!” to someone. I am very hopeful to experience happiness in 2015 and I wish that for everyone. But I think we sometimes have misplaced notions as to where true happiness comes from. And I also believe that sometimes we really are oblivious as to what would make us happy.

Some people think more money would make them happy. Some think a relationship or marriage would make them happy. Some think being older or being younger would make them happy. Some think being more beautiful or better looking would make them happy. Some think popularity would make them happy. Some feel they would be happier in a different job. Some feel they would be happier if they lived in a different city.

Happiness and contentment are closely related. My New Year’s resolution is that I would learn to be more content. Contentment is a matter of our attitude. And our attitude is a matter of choice. So when I choose to be content I am choosing to be happy.

Take a newborn infant. They have no idea how to communicate other than to cry. For a while that is their only form of communication. And there is no variance as to whether it means, “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired” or ”I’m wet” or “I’m scared” or “I’m sick” or “I’m hurt.” They just simply cry for anything they have need of at that moment because in that moment they are not happy – they are not content.

When you see a quiet baby sleeping peacefully, we say “What a contented child.” That’s what I want: to be content, and therein lies my happiness. Now that I’m older and more mature I don’t need to cry to let someone know I’m hungry, or I’m hurt, or I’m sick. In fact, I can learn to be content even when situations around me may be tiresome, unpredictable, or less than desirable and out of my control – I can still choose to be content.

And when I choose to be content I find that I am happy. So happiness doesn’t happen when I get something, or when my situation changes, happiness happens when I choose to be content in spite of my situation.

So if we really want 2015 to be a Happy New Year (and I really do want that for you) then we can’t wait for happiness to come to us. We need to learn to be content and then we will be happy!

“… for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11

Gleaning from Boaz

By Pastor Gary Jennings

I do have my favorite men in the Bible that I often read about and also find myself referring to in my discussions with other people; guys like David, Paul, Moses, Gideon, Joshua and Elijah. These guys really inspire me. They not only tell me what to do, but also what not to do. But recently I bumped into this man Boaz. We studied about this man in one of our Men’s Wednesday Morning Bible Studies. He was never on my list of favorite guys in the Bible to read about and to learn from; but he ought to have been. I can glean a lot from this man.

In the Book of Ruth we read that Boaz was a wealthy land owner. He not only was a very capable man, but he was a generous and righteous man. When harvest season came around, the Law of Moses instructed harvesters not to completely strip the land, but to leave some behind for people who were poor. These less fortunate people would then glean these fields.

During one harvest season there was a young widow named Ruth who happened upon one of Boaz’s fields. Food was scarce and as she gleaned, Boaz noticed her and inquired as to who she was. He went far beyond the Law of Moses. He went to her and had compassion on her. He protected her. He invited her to drink from his water jars and eat from his meal table. He then instructed his workers to purposely leave more stalks behind for Ruth to glean and pick up. Boaz was quite a man. The rest of the story goes like this; he ends up marrying Ruth and she became his is lovely bride and gives him a son named Obed. Obed would become the grandfather of Kind David, and his family tree would run right to Jesus Christ our saviour.

Ruth gleaning grain from one of Boaz’s fields got me to thinking and questioning myself. It is good to take good stalk of ourselves. I asked the man in the mirror, what are you leaving behind for others to glean? What is there in my life that I would be eager for others to pick up? What is there that I purposely need to lay out there so others can scoop it up. How could gleaning from me make someone else’s life better? All kinds of thinks rush to center stage in my mind when I contemplate the answers to those questions. It boils down to this; I need to be conscious of being an example in everything I say and everything I do. The Apostle Paul reminds me in II Corinthians 3:2 that I am like a letter. I am addressed to the world. They open up my letter and read me.

Oh God, help me to write my life well, so others may read well and glean much from who I am. May I inspire hope and vision? May I lead by exhorting and be generous with the gifts, talents and resources you have entrusted me with? May I encourage others to run the race of life well?

Yes, Oh God, please help me!

Through It All

By Pastor Ruth Denboer

Generally speaking I am a forward thinker but every once in a while something happens that causes me to go into a reflective mode for a bit. This recently happened with the passing away of one of my childhood mentors. This person I’m sure had no idea that he was one of my mentors, but I, and countless thousands, were blessed by this person’s heart for God that was so beautifully expressed through the worship music he wrote and performed. This person is Andrae Crouch.

My life as a teen was so influenced and challenged by the music and words of this singer/songwriter. His songs were his stories, but somehow resonated with thousands of others. His songs found their way into the choir lofts and then onto the worship lists of many churches in the 70’s and since.

Songs like “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power”, “My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)”, “Soon and Very Soon” and “Through It All”. Just hear the words of his song “Through It All” …

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,

I’ve had questions for tomorrow,

there’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong.

But in every situation,

God gave me blessed consolation,

that my trials come to only make me strong.

Chorus:

Through it all,

through it all,

I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,

I’ve learned to trust in God.

Through it all,

through it all,

I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

I’ve been to lots of places,

I’ve seen a lot of faces,

there’s been times I felt so all alone.

But in my lonely hours,

yes, those precious lonely hours,

Jesus lets me know that I was His own

I thank God for the mountains,

and I thank Him for the valleys,

I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.

For if I’d never had a problem,

I wouldn’t know God could solve them,

I’d never know what faith in God could do.

Wow … just allow me to repeat that last line … “For if I’d never had a problem, I wouldn’t know that God could solve them, I’d never know what faith in God could do.” I am so thankful that I was shaped on lyrics like these.

Today I look back and remember. Today I give thanks for this man’s heart, his songs, and his willingness to share his gift with the world. Thank you God for teaching us through his gift of music to trust You to bring us through the storms of life. Thank you God for helping us to know that … through it all, we can learn to depend upon Your Word.

Now a memory from my teen years. This clip is Andrae Crouch at a Billy Graham crusade in 1975.

The Unlived Life

By Pastor Gary Jennings Jr.

One of my favorite sites is the mockingbird (www.mbird.com). Its a site, according to their about page, that “seeks to connect the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life in fresh and down-to-earth ways”. One of the articles on that site introduced me to Adam Phillips who wrote “Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life”. In the intro, Phillips says,

“There is always what will turn out to be the life we led, and the life that accompanied it, the parallel life (or lives) that never actually happened, that we lived in our minds, the wished-for life (or lives): the risks untaken and the opportunities avoided or unprovided. We refer to them as our unlived lives because somewhere we believe that they were open to us; but for some reason – and we might spend a great deal of our lived lives trying to find and give the reason – they were not possible. And what was not possible all too easily becomes the story of our lives. Indeed, our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless tantrum about, the lives we were unable to live.”

The big question we all ask, maybe even haunts us at times, is “What If?”. I think everyone asks this every once in awhile. “What if I took that other job instead of the one I have?”, “What if I had the courage to ask out that guy/girl in highschool/college?”, “What if I tried harder at academics and made it into the university I always wanted to attend?”. What if I moved to Australia when I was 20?”, “What if I just took more risks in my life?”.

Who knows what our lives would be like if we had chosen something different in those major forks in the road. But what about all the little forks in the road? You might be asking more immediate “What If’s” like, “What if I didn’t get angry all the time?”, “What if I put 110% into my job?”, “What if I was more present with my friends and family instead of being at work in my head all the time?”.

The great thing about the new years, is that these “What If’s” don’t have to be directed at the past in despair, but can be directed to the future with hope that these “What If’s” can still happen.

There are more major forks in the road ahead of you, and of course a bunch of little ones as well. Instead of despairing over an unlived life, focus on the one you have, the day/month/year that is right in front of you, unformed and full of possibility.