May 15 2013

Mother's Day Thoughts

We had a wonderful, special Mother's Day Weekend celebrating all the women in our church family.  Each and every woman in and connected to Harlem Road Church holds a very special place in God's heart and in our congregation, and is greatly needed to help us be all that we can be as the Body of Christ here on the east side of Hoover Reservoir in Delaware County.  Women have such a unique and important role to fill in their many callings -- as mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters, sisters-in-law, daughters, daughters-in-law, co-workers, and friends.  Women are gifted by God  in amazing ways.  They demonstrate the image of God and show us what it means to be Christlike.  We celebrate all the women of HRC and call each one to identify and fulfill their God-given role and purpose.  All of us should be aware of how vital women are in our lives... and to the future of our children and our nation.

Happy Mother's Day!
Pastor Bud

Apr 05 2013

Focusing on God's Vision

I hope you are having a good day so far and I just want you to know that I've prayed for each of you this week. I trust, as we've been trying to be focused on God's vision for our lives, that you've taken some time to be still... to withdraw... to watch and wait and write down what God is showing you about your life and His love for you. Many of you have told me about what you've been "seeing" in your mind's eye and "hearing" with your spiritual ears as you pray and it's very inspiring. Some of you have said it has changed your life and your relationship with God, and I'm grateful to hear that.  Remember that Habakkuk taught us to worship God with praise and thanksgiving when He puts His Word, thoughts, ideas, and images in your mind. (Confirmed, of course, by the words of Scripture and by trusted spiritual mentors.)

Please continue to make space to withdraw, envision Jesus walking alongside you in your favorite place... and just ask in prayer, "Jesus, what would you like to say to me today?"  Then quiet yourself, watch and wait, and write... and be sure to confirm it through God's Word and through other Christian friends. Don't stop trying. It took multiple efforts to learn to walk; to ride a bike; to learn to drive a car. I know that God longs to speak His vision, plans, dreams, and Word into your life. And when He does, like some of you have attested, it will change your perspective and your relationship with God forever.

We are in a season of stilling ourselves in worship to ask God for His vision for our Church. Don't underestimate how vitally important this is. Our "best ideas" are great, but they are nothing without God being in them. I'm not interested in our best ideas and then asking God to bless our vision and our wisdom. I'm interested in asking God to show us His plans and vision and His best ideas for our Church , and then working with Him over the years ahead to see His vision come to life.

Please join me in prayer with this same attitude.  God is able to do far more than we can possibly imagine or dream. So we come with no obstacles or limitations in mind. I'm aware we have a mortgage payment on our building... I could let that limit my thinking about ministries we could do in the future. I'm aware that we are out of space in our building and that each room is used for 3, 4, and even 5 purposes during any given week, and this could limit my thinking about our future ministries. But in going to God in prayer about this He clearly spoke to my heart: "Bud, am I not bigger than your mortgage? Am I not bigger than your space issues and concerns? Don't you believe that I could resolve those road-blocks in the blink of an eye?" And I had to admit -- and repent -- that I was limiting God with my own human thinking. It's true! We can't allow ourselves to be limited by our own human thinking. So, we'll go to prayer together...and we'll share again in some quiet time...and seek God's Vision for our Church life...and we'll take some time to write down the things God is showing us in our hearts and minds, remembering that with God there are no limitations... and that where God gives us vision, God makes provision.

Keep praying! Keep seeking God's word and vision for your life and our church. I believe we stand at another threshold in which God wants to do more great things though His faithful followers. I am, with all of my heart and faith and courage to risk, seeking ALL of God's plans for His ministry called Harlem Road Church. I know amazing days and weeks and years are ahead of us as God reveals His preferred future in our midst!

Blessings,
Pastor Bud

Jan 18 2013

Thankfulness in Difficult Times

Thinking personally about giving thanks in the good times and the hard times has been difficult for me this morning. Are you attempting to do this? Remember, the peace of Christ is available to you as you practice giving thanks even in the difficult times.  I have tons and tons of things to give thanks for... that part isn't so difficult. But I think of our church family and the difficult circumstances in some folks' lives, and I grieve for and pray for each one in their struggles. The people I love dearly are going through some tough times -- including my personal family in Pennsylvania. And I'm to give thanks for this in order to find the peace of Christ in it all? Yes.  And it is remarkable to me that how so many are turning in their struggle to apply their faith in very real ways. Almost everyone I know is drawing closer to God in their distress. You know, that's something a Pastor can give thanks for! Peoples' faith in the Lord is being proven, promoted, and even purified. And as I look over my list of prayer requests from the past 6 months, I see many prayers answered.  Not necessarily in the ways I prayed, but in the ways God knew best.  I can be thankful that God's wisdom is far above mine. And there's great peace in knowing God has heard my prayers and is involved in our lives. Some prayers I've been praying for 15 years and I don't see them being answered in the way I want. Yet, I see God supplying the daily need and enabling people to keep taking one step at a time... and finding ways to enjoy the beautiful moments in life despite pain and difficulty. I can surely give thanks in that... and in that thanksgiving, God gives me some peace.  Peace about the people I love... peace that He IS in charge and I don't have to fix everything... peace in knowing that God (if I am submitted to Him) is steering the course of my life.

Know that God loves you.  That's the bedrock of peace.  He's not against you.  He's not trying to make your life more difficult.  He loves you.

Know that God is for you.  He sees, He's at work, and He's pulling for you.  If God is for you, who can be against you??  There's more peace.

Know that God hears your prayers and coordinates events with your best interest in mind for a very abundant life.  Find great peace in that, too.

Finally, know that this life is temporary and Jesus has gone to prepare a much better place for all of us to inhabit for all the days of eternity.  And when you come before Jesus with sincerity in prayer, acknowledge his sacrifice and love, acknowledge your sin and seek repentance, and receive by faith the grace and forgiveness made available to you through the blood of Jesus... well... there's more long- term peace found in that assurance than in anything else.

Peace is available when you choose to give thanks. You give thanks by focusing on the things that are "thanks-worthy," even in spite of difficulty and struggle. We are blessed in a million ways. If you don't think so, just take a serious look around you with an objective eye. When you realize what's right in front of you... all that you have... all the people you love and hold dear... all of your hope... you can surely give thanks.  And find peace.

You are loved... live like it.
Pastor Bud

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