I Love My Doctor
Pastor Dan Wootton
Verse of the day
When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Mark 2:17 NLT)
Last month I had a painfully awkward conversation with a local physician. This was only my second visit with this doctor, and the previous had been twelve months earlier. My expectations for familiarity were nonexistent. I mean . . . I’d spent 20 minutes with the guy 12 months earlier.
I did what I thought to be polite and opened with, “Hi. I’m Dan.” He quickly responded with an exuberant, “I know who you are! Good to see you again. How’s the kids?” My mind went into math mode. 8 hour work day ÷ 20 minute appointment = 24 patients a day X 20 work days (or so) a month = 480 patients a month X 12 months . . . my conclusion? There’s no way this guy remembers me. Apparently, he kept notes on our conversation from the previous year, and apparently his notes were a little . . . patchy. When he shared with his assistant how I play organ for my parish, I didn’t know whether or not to correct him. We awkwardly agreed to play pretend friends until the 20 minutes was over. I’ll see him again in 11 months.
I don’t visit the doctor often because . . . I’m healthy. My physician is a highly-skilled but mostly unnecessary part of my present. Now, if I was sick, that stranger COULD become my best friend. That stranger COULD become the most important person I know, but for now, he’s just a stranger.
Do you want to know why Oak Creek Assembly is such an important part of my life? And no . . . it’s not just because I’m employed here. I was a regular church attender long before I was brought on any staff. My church is a weekly part of my existence because . . . I’m not well. I don’t have a clean bill of health. God has blessed me immensely. I’m redeemed, sanctified, and sanctifying but the only reason that I’m any of these things is because . . . I’m in treatment, and I don’t skip an appointment. I know my physician well, and He knows me. He is my health. He is my healer. I love my doctor.
“Will You Pay The Cost?”
Pastor Ken Beach
Verse of the day:
While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”(Mark 2: 2-5)
These men dared to do the difficult. Here their faith was in open display. It was not easy to bring this man to Jesus. They had to carry him, perhaps a great distance, through the streets of the city—through the crowds trying to get to Jesus. When they found the doorway blocked, a quick thinker in the group decided the only way was up—up to the roof. We don’t know how heavy the paralyzed man was, but at any weight it is not easy to carry a full-grown man up a flight of stairs and then lower him safely down by rope. Yet these men managed this difficult task. They dared to do the difficult. What an illustration this gives us of bringing people to Christ!
Then, notice that they dared to do the unorthodox. When they found that the door was blocked, they didn’t sit down or appoint a committee to research the various ways to get to Jesus—they just did what was necessary, risking the disapproval, not only of the owner of the house, but also of every person there. After all, they were interrupting the meeting while placing their friend at the front of the line in order to get to Jesus. The remarkable thing is that Jesus never rebuked them. There is never an incident recorded in which Jesus got uptight or disturbed about an interruption by someone intent on receiving something from Him—someone pressing through to Him despite the disapproval of those around. These men dared to do the unorthodox.
Finally, they dared to do the costly. Imagine the face of the home owner when he hears this scratching on his roof. He looks up, and to his amazement the tiles begin to move as mud crumbles and a light dust fills the air. Then daylight appears through a large hole in his roof that wasn’t there when this event began. I wonder what he was thinking. Was he wondering if his homeowner's policy would cover it? Was he mentally adding up the bill to present to these men? I mean, somebody had to pay that bill, somebody had to repair that roof. And surely that somebody was one, if not all, of these men. You see, they dared to do the costly. That is faith!
They laid it on the line and did the difficult—the unorthodox—the costly. And they did it at their own expense. What a witness this is down through the ages to what it takes to bring people to Christ!
We need the presence of God
Pastor Tom Murray
Verse of the Day:
Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. (Exodus 40:34 NLT)
The Old Testament records faithful people who carefully followed God-given directions as they built the tabernacle - a portable dwelling of God and place of worship.
God provided instructions on how money was to be raised to pay for the tabernacle. He called upon skilled craftsman to take responsibility for "the Tabernacle and its sacred tent, its covering, clasps, frames, crossbars, posts, and bases” (Exodus 35:11 NLT). God gave details for the artistic work, the layout, sacred items that were to be inside, and even colors that were to be used for weaving the priests’ garments.
So much was invested in preparing and building this holy place. Yet, it was not complete until, "the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle” (40:34)
The tabernacle became the place where His presence came down to the people. His Spirit was a tangible, undeniable reality. It was a consistent reminder of His purity. The tabernacle was the site where sinners found forgiveness for their rebellion.
Today, so much passionate work is devoted to ministry. Many volunteers arrive early, stay late or both. There is an investment of time, money, and talent. Months goes into planning.
Yet, it is all for nothing without the presence of God. All the preparation, planning, lights, bells, and whistles come up empty if our Heavenly Father is an afterthought.
As followers of Christ, God’s desire is that our pursuit of Him will be at the forefront of all we do.
He Comes to Our Rescue
Pastor Stephanie Humpa
Verse of the day:
“The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!” (Psalm 34:19-20 NLT)
Often there is a misconception that when you live your life as a Christian that you are shielded from going through troubles. If you google “Why do bad things happen to good people?” you will find many people have written articles, blog posts, and even books trying to understand why living a moral life is not enough to ensure protection against troubles. I’m not sure where this misconception got its start but it is not something that we were every promised in the Bible—at least as long as we remain on Earth.
The truth is the moral person, the righteous person, the Christ follower will face many troubles throughout their life, BUT God comes to their rescue each time. What you are spared as a believer is far from many of the consequences that you naturally face when you are living an immoral life.
No matter what we face or how helpless the situation may seem God is there on the scene. I love what verse 20 says, “For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!” We will face pressure, but He will not let us be broken.
Are you going through a hard time and asking, “Why me?!” or “What did I do wrong?!” Take comfort in knowing that no matter how much pressure or hardship you may be facing God will not let you be crushed and He will rescue you each time—not some of the time—but each time!
The Paradox of Generosity
Pastor Armin Colón
Verse of the day:
Finally the craftsmen who were working on the sanctuary left their work. They went to Moses and reported, “The people have given more than enough materials to complete the job the Lord has commanded us to do!” (Exodus 36:4-5 NLT)
In Exodus 36, the people of Israel were called to provide the construction materials needed to build the Tabernacle. Isn’t it a bit strange? Why ask a nation of homeless-slaves who are wandering in the wilderness for whatever little they had? Why would an all-powerful God need help building His own house? Why didn’t God miraculously provide all the construction materials?
I found the answer to these questions in a book called “The Paradox of Generosity” (Smith and Davidson). The book is based on a surveyed of 2,000 people from different families, races, and states over a five-year period. The results were astonishing! Allow me to share three with you.
1. People who describe themselves as “very happy” volunteer an average of 5.8 hours per month.
2. People who donate more than 10% of their incomes tend to have lower depression rates.
3. People who are emotionally available and hospitable in relationships are much more likely to be in excellent health.
God didn’t ask the people to provide the construction materials for the Tabernacle for His own sake. He didn’t need their help. He did it for their sake. He wanted the people of Israel to be happier, less depressed, and healthier as they made their way to the Promised Land. So, He challenged them to be generous.
Today, God wants you to be happier, less depressed, and healthier as you make your way to Heaven. Thus, He is calling you to be generous. He didn’t create you to live for yourself. He has blessed you, so you can bless others.
Allow me to share a few ideas on how to be generous even if you don’t have money to give.
1. Volunteer during the Easter Experience
2. Clean off the snow from your neighbor’s sidewalk
3. Donate blood
4. Donate those clothes, toys, or household items you don’t use often
Are there things around you that will only get done if you give away your time, talent, treasure, or table? When you bless others, God blesses you!
Seeing and Understanding
Pastor Shawn Follis
Verse of the day:
“The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do.” (Psalms 33:13-15)
There are some today that believe that God is the creator of all things. However, after creation they believe that he has taken his hands off the world and only watched to see the drama that will unfold in his creation. They see him as a passive observer. Only in time of crisis, when men beg and plead may such a god respond and interacts in the lives of people. This concept is called Deism.
This is not the God I know; nor does it describe the God of the Bible. Today’s reading from Psalms tells us a few interesting things about God. Verse thirteen and fourteen both give us insight to the fact that God sees the whole human race. There is no part of the earth or creation that is uninteresting or overlooked by God. God sees all. He observes not just the big picture of the world’s activities but he is able to zoom in on each life and truly know them. It is as if he has both a global view and an individual view at the same time. He sees all.
He not only sees us, he knows us. The psalmist points out that not only does God take an interest into what is happening in our world but he knows the heart of every man, because he made us. He not only sees our actions but he understands our motives and reasoning. When we are worried or anxious, he knows. When we are full of joy and celebration, he knows. When we mourn with grief, he knows. God sees all and understands all.
Sometimes we feel as if no one sees us. We feel alone and that no one understands. However, the Bible reminds us today that we have a God in heaven that not only sees and understands but he is leaning in. I don’t see God reclining on a couch leisurely watching the world, passively. I see him leaning in. Seated on the edge of his seat with anticipation because he knows that his children are capable of great acts of love and kindness and he is leaning in to see. So today, feel the closeness of God as he leans into your life to see all. He sees and he understands.
The Best Life Advice
Pastor Joshua Humpa
Verse of the Day:
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8)
Google is the best. Anything related to creating graphics or video I have mostly self taught through Google. When it comes to doing house work, Google has been my quick go to. Each week when we write curriculum for kids church, Google is always the starting point. Whenever I need tips, advice, or some quick research Google is my best friend.
On the flip side, Google can also come up with some weird results. Often I have to reword or resubmit the search to get what I need. I’m sure you’ve had the same experience.
In our age of technology and information overload, you can really learn and become whoever you want to be through the likes of Google. But that doesn’t equate to becoming who you were created to be. We can love our job, but when we’re doing what we were created to do it becomes more than a job. There can be stress and frustration, but at quitting time it’s all worth it.
It’s incredible how willing God is to reveal His plan for our lives. Our verse from Psalm 32 tells us that God will guide us along the best pathway for our life. Not just a good one, not one that will be fun for a season, but one that is the best. Google can provide great tools and advice, but God will always provide the best. He created us and knows what’s best. Trust Him and ask Him what to do. He’ll advise, watch over, and be our most faithful source.
The Neighbors You Desperately Need
Pastor Dan Wootton
Verse of the day
“I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment. I know where to discover knowledge and discernment.” (Proverbs 8:12-13 NLT)
Wisdom wasn’t always so wise. Decades ago he was just a wise guy. Good Judgment’s judgement wasn’t always so fine either. When she was young, her judgement was well-meaning at best, but . . . . and this is important . . . Wisdom and Good Judgement committed themselves to Christ. They had a few kids, joined a faith community, and let the Word become their textbook. Knowledge and discernment developed over the years and over the decades, and . . . (this is really good news) . . . they live in your neighborhood. That’s right. Wisdom and Good Judgment live together, and you share a cul-de-sac.
For those of us who are young in body or young in spiritual maturity, it’s easy to miss our access to spiritual wisdom. Wisdom and Good Judgement can literally be a conversation away, and yet we fail to engage. If you are connected to a longstanding faith community, Wisdom and Good Judgment most definitely attend your church. They are your neighbors, and they are waiting for you to walk across the street and introduce yourself. Proverbs teaches us that Wisdom and Good Judgment know where to discover knowledge and discernment. We need to engage. We need to ask. We need to seek out spiritual mentors and submit ourselves to their counsel. If a wealth of spiritual insight is in your neighborhood, it’s time to bake some cookies, walk across the street, and introduce yourself.
“Use It or Lose It”
Pastor Ken Beach
Verse of the day:
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip. (Matthew 25: 14-15)
God calls us and equips us according to that call. This allows us to perform suited to the situations we find ourselves in, and the talents we have receive. The good that any of us has, has been received from God. And through His Holy Spirit we also receive the ability to improve that good—not though our might or strength, but through the power of the Holy Spirit.
With the God given talent which each of us has been given comes responsibility and enough grace and mercy, not only for ourselves to complete the task at hand, but also enough to extend to those around us. We need to be content with what God has placed in our hands and not look at what others have—like us, they are held accountable for what they have. Whether it is five talents or one, God knows what we are capable of and gifts us accordingly. We need to find contentment in the fact that He trusts us with a task unique to us as individuals.
After reading the rest of the parable, the important take away from this account is that we need to be faithful with what we receive, whether great or small, and we should do our best to improve on and increase what God has placed into their hands. And if we do that we will hear those eternal words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”
So be satisfied with what you have been given, use it, striving to do your best with it, and do not just sit on it—that is all God asks of us.