Thanksgiving Week

It’s here!  It’s here!  Thanksgiving week is here!  We get to over indulge in several different areas of life.  We get to over eat; have our fill of football; overspend on black Friday shopping; and over do the baking.

We also have the opportunity to come together in worship in a Thanksgiving worship service.  Ours here at Deer Valley is Wednesday night, the Thanksgiving Eve service, at 6:30 pm.  It’s a chance for us to reflect on the blessings that God showers upon us and thank him for them.  Please feel free to come and join us!

The president of our Ministry training college has shared a link to Advent devotions that we can use on our own.  I’ve include his paragraph and the link for you to use and get your own devotions to bring the family around your family altar.

As you finish your Thanksgiving festivities and begin to look ahead to Christmas, this booklet, with daily readings for December 1-25, will help you prepare. Go to mlc-wels.edu/publications/seasonal-devotions to read it online, to order a print version, or to sign up for daily devotions to be sent to you during Advent. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Work in Progress

We had our dedication of our remodeled sanctuary on October 14th which was followed by a luncheon and fellowship.  The chairs were new, the walls newly painted and the flooring replaced with tile-beautiful.  However, we are still a work in progress.  We have some cover plates that aren’t on the switches and outlets; the boxes are still boxed with things we packed away in the teen room and Nancy’s office; the narthex is a little barren.  The committee has met and made some plans to get closer to the finished product but no specific date is set for the total completion.

Our lives are a work in progress as well.  I am not a finished product as I continue to grow in God’s word.  We all have the constant battle of our Old Adam versus the New Man.  The struggle is real and is part of our work in progress.  We an visualize what the sanctuary is going to look like but are awaiting the finished product.  We too can visualize what heaven is going to be like but have a hard time understanding perfection.  We know that it will be better than anything we can imagine.

I for one am glad I am a work in progress under God’s grace.  Without the promise of  a Savior I am condemned forever.  Because of Christ’s work I am finished, made perfect in Christ!  I like that work in progress.   Who do you know that could benefit by being a work in progress?  Share the good news of Jesus with them.

How cluttered is your heart?

If you are anything like me there just doesn’t seem to be enough room to store all the stuff I need.  We have a two car garage at home with zero cars in it but we do have 10 shelving units, a workbench, a fridge, a file cabinet, an armoires, bike, boxes and you get the picture.

In our Ministry center at church we have a storage issue problem as well.  The picture is an example of the clutter happening in one corner of my office.

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one corner of my office

There is VBS stuff, evangelism stuff, Trunk or Treat stuff, signage, file cabinet, book shelves, baskets, boxes and that’s just one corner!  We like to keep our stuff don’t we?  We say we’ll use it again and want to hang on to it just in case.

The same can said about our sins.  We like to hang on to them.  God encourages us to come to him with our burdens, struggles and sin and leave them at the cross.  Lay them at the feet of Jesus who lived a perfect, died an innocent death and rose again to pay for those sins 100 %.  PAID IN FULL is your receipt and a home in heaven is yours.  We don’t need to hang on to the sins that clutter our heart.  When we come to God in full repentance and are truly sorry for our sins he forgives them.

I hope you’ve experienced the feeling of unburdened heart removed of all the clutter because of the forgiveness you’ve received.  It’s a wonderful moment in the life of a Christian knowing you are forgiven and don’t have to find another shelf to put your next sin on to.  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Philippians 4:4

 

Celebrating God’s Love

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My wife and I spent last weekend on the campus of Peridot Lutheran Church and school to celebrate 125 years of ministry on the San Carlos Apache Reservation.  Our church body sent two missionaries to Peridot in 1893 to share the good news of Jesus with the Native Americans living on the reservation.  We privileged to hear several speakers sharing stories from the past and viewed numerous photos from the old days.  Past teachers and synod leaders came to share in the festivities and worship service.

On Saturday we were able to worship with 700 plus people in a celebration worship service regarding bringing the good news to the Reservation.  We heard beautiful music from adult choirs, teen choirs and children’s choirs with songs in both english and Apache.  We heard stories of how God’s word has changed people’s hearts and lives!

My blog this week is just to remind us that we have so many people living around us in our own communities who do not know Jesus.  You don’t have to come out here to Arizona to share your faith you can do it right where you stand.  Reflect back on what God has given YOU through Jesus Christ and find some motivation to share that joy with someone else.  It’s as easy as asking them to come and sit with you in a worship service or Bible class!

Blessings on your day and may God give you the courage to invite!

How do you stay balanced?

plates

Do you ever feel like the picture of all these plates spinning?  You’ve got so much stuff going on it’s hard balancing them and hard to keep them spinning.  Each stick with a plate on top represents a different aspect of your life.  Work, finances, kids, friends, volunteerism, retirement, hobbies, leisure, relationships, worship or what ever you want to name a plate are real things in our lives.

I know some people who are really good at keeping a finite number of plates spinning.  They know their limit and know what they can handle and can’t handle.  Other people have some pretty wobbly plates with some broken ones on the floor because they just can’t keep everything going.  They have every good intention of making everything work together but some things get away from them.

What do you do when you can’t keep everything balanced?  Most of us try to reduce the number of plates we have spinning.  The word NO is a powerful word that we need to use a bit more often-especially when it’s things we want to do.  It’s ok to say NO to your children you aren’t a bad parent.

What I’d like you to do today is start another spinning plate.  This plate is the plate of God’s word.  After you are done ready my blog open your Bible and reflect on the words of Ecclesiastes 3.  Here are the first eight verses:

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

5 Things

Dave Ramsey talks about the “Four Walls” for security in your finances.  Shelter, Transportation, Food & Basic Utilities (water & electric).  If you have those items you should be pretty stable in your surroundings and if your struggling paying the bills you at least have your four walls.  His insight is very important to remember when you are dealing with your personal needs.  The bills that you can’t pay are the bills you can’t pay and maybe your credit score will take a hit but at least you can get to work, sleep in your bed, stay warm and have some food.  It might be ramen noodles and tuna but it’s food.

I’d like to add the fifth element to Dave Ramsey’s “Four Walls” concept.  I think you need a foundation to base the four wall concept on and the promise that God will always will be with us is essential.  When we have the confidence that God is with us it’s encouraging to know we are not alone.  Money struggles can get us down and stress us out.  Knowing that God is in charge allows us to relax and trust in him.

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Just remember that this earthly world is temporary and that we will endure hardships and challenges.  The key thing to remember is that we will not go through them alone!

Undeserved Love

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We are being blessed this week out here in the desert southwest with RAIN!  Hurricane Rosa’s remnants have made a bee line towards the valley of the sun and has created a three-day weather pattern that will dump upwards of 4 inches of rain in our region!  What a blessing!  The National Weather service reported Phoenix is about 22 percent above average for rainfall in this year’s monsoon season. They say Phoenix has received 2.2 inches of rain so far in the annual monsoon season, which runs from mid-June to the end of September. Our yearly average is 8.2 inches in Phoenix.  No wonder we take water out of the Colorado river to sustain life here.  8 inches of rain is not enough to keep 5 million people hydrated, toilets flushed and pop machines running.

This week is a great reminder of who is in charge of everything.  Earthquakes and Tsunami’s hitting Asia; Hurricane cleanup in the Carolinas’ and rainfall in the desert southwest are great reminders of God’s almighty power.  The rainfall we are receiving here is a blessing for residents of homes and the desert. The vegetation and animals of the desert will drink in as much moisture as they can.  Our yards, pools and cacti will suck up the rainfall too.  Our reservoirs will try to keep as much of the water as it can.  An undeserved blessing for sure!  God is good!

God showers his undeserved love on us as well by providing us a Savior.  Remember he demands perfection from us and we fail at it miserably.  Yet, he loves us enough that he gave us a Savior in Jesus who led a perfect life, died and innocent death and defeated death.  He carried the sins of all of us on the cross.   Through him God sees that perfection which is credited to us.  PAID IN FULL through the blood of the lamb, Jesus.

Praise be to God for his undeserved love for my salvation–and also for the rain in the desert!