Pastor Bud's Blog

Being realigned to God's kingdom-values...

Hello Church,

In Mark 9:33-35 we read, "Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, 'What were you arguing about on the way?' But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, 'Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.'"

That was really a "Come to Jesus" meeting.  Sometimes I need a little realignment of my priorities, or a little reassessment of my motives, or a little tweaking of my heart attitudes. Sometimes I need to listen to that voice within that asks, "Whose kingdom are you really building? And whose name are you really promoting? And whose cause are you really battling?" And so, like the disciples, Jesus sits me down so we can have a little "Come to Jesus" meeting.

God's kingdom functions differently than ours.  In God's kingdom, the way up, is down. The way to lead, is to serve. The place of honor only comes from a place of humility. Matthew 23:12 says, "All who exalt themselves will be
humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted." So Jesus calls a little "sit down" with his disciples and he teaches them:  the last become first; the first becomes last.  That's how it works in the kingdom of God.

Maybe we could pray, "Lord, you know me like no one else. You know when I sit down; when I stand up. You discern my thoughts... and yet, somehow, you still love me.  Somehow you still patiently bear with me."  Maybe we could pray like the psalmist in Psalm 139 who says, "Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Test me and know my thoughts.  See if there is any wicked in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

So Jesus, thanks for the sit down this morning. Thank you that you love me enough to gently but firmly realign me and remind of Your kingdom ways.  I want the world to see Your kingdom in me and for all people to be drawn to your incredible love.

You are in my thoughts and prayers today,
Pastor Bud

The Season of Lent

Hello Church,

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the forty days of Lent.  Lent is a roughly six-week period, not including Sundays, that takes us up to Holy Week and to Easter Sunday morning.  This is a season in the Christian Life that is dedicated to reflection and prayer and many often fast (go without some material thing) in preparation for Easter.  Many Christians abstain from certain foods, material things, activities, or habits in an effort to draw closer to God.  When you are hungry, or craving a certain food, or some material thing or some habit, instead of partaking, you turn to prayer.  In solitude with God, you draw closer to Him instead.

This is a traditional approach and well worth the journey.  Many have discovered break-through during fasts and if you sense a call to fasting, by all means I encourage you to be obedient.  I have tried in the past but have often found failure with giving material things up to be closer to God.  Instead, I give up time I would usually use to do other things like sleep, watch some TV, etc., and I choose to use this time to pray.  And when I say "pray," I mean I take time to simply BE with God.  It's not extra time for me to ask for something.  It's simply time to pour out my heart before God... to be still and let Him speak to my heart and mind... and to draw closer to Him.

Please choose for yourself.  In this next forty days of Lent, I encourage you to press in.  God already see everything in you -- the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Your resurrection moment leading up to Easter comes when all of it -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- are dealt with in honesty with God in the season of Lent.  Fasting is a gracious thing, not an imposition.  So is any act of devotion to God over the course of this forty days of Lent as we press in before we celebrate Easter.  However you do it... whatever you choose... I challenge you this year to take a serious approach to moving toward God.

This weekend, the first Sunday of Lent, we’re beginning a sermon series on looking at the cross in detail. This will lead us into Holy Week.  When Jesus was crucified on the cross during what we now call Holy Week, the four gospels record that he made seven public statements.  Each of the statements helps to explain why Jesus died on the cross -- and how this benefits YOU.  What Jesus actually did on the cross for you was far bigger than paying for your sins.  There’s more to it than that.  There are benefits you get to experience in your life and throughout eternity because of his death and resurrection.

If you're not sure what all these benefits are, join us for the next several Sundays and we'll learn them together.

Remember that God loves you.

Blessings,
Pastor Bud

Trusting God's Perfect Timing

Friends,

I have to be honest.  Few things make me more irritated than having to wait.  I’m not very good at it.  I don’t like waiting in traffic when I-71 is at a standstill and looks like a parking lot.  Or waiting for a solution to a problem that needs to be dealt with.  I want to rush to deal with it and fix it.  I don’t like waiting.  I don't like waiting in line at the grocery store or waiting for service at a restaurant or waiting for a doctor.  Pam is much more patient than me... probably because, like any good husband, I’ve given her plenty of practice as she has worked to be patient with me for the last thirty years.  But, personally, I'm not a particularly patient person.  I just don't like waiting.

We’re so accustomed to “fast” these days.  Compared to fifty years ago, technology has sped up everything these days. We have started to expect that we shouldn't have to wait for information or communication or answers.  Yet it is clear that waiting is sometimes an important part of life.  It's important for our character development.  There are some things in life that we only learn when we’re waiting:  a child has to learn the difference between "no" and "not yet."  Because they're not the same thing, are they?  Our inability to wait is the cause of many problems in our lives.  Our inability to delay gratification and slow down and wait is often the cause of our overindebtedness, our overabundance of possessions, and even sometimes our overwhelming health issues.  

Ask yourself, have you ever been in a hurry when God wasn't?  I think sometimes that that's when it's the most frustrating to wait -- when you're in God's waiting room.  Perhaps you can rush the spouse... maybe you can rush the kids or rush the coworkers... but you just can't rush God.  But some of our most important lessons and our most important Christian character traits are developed while we are waiting on God's timing.  This Sunday, I'll be preaching about having faith to wait on God.  I know it's not easy, but having faith in God includes having faith in God's perfect timing.  

Praying for you today and every day,
Pastor Bud

About Us

Harlem Road Church is a healthy, growing, spiritually vital, risk-taking faith community where Christian disciples make and equip Christian disciples in partnership with the Holy Spirit. Our mission is to glorify Jesus Christ as we reach out to all people as children of God. We nurture our relationships and our faith through worship, education, instruction, and fellowship.

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Galena, OH 43021

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