We’ve moved six times in the 13 years we’ve been married, and have another move on the horizon. This aspect of our military life is not for the faint of heart, but it draws us near to God again and again. Throughout the years and moves, one of the things I’ve held fast to is our ‘forever home.’
We’ve moved six times in the 13 years we’ve been married, and have another move on the horizon. This aspect of our military life is not for the faint of heart, but it draws us near to God again and again. Throughout the years and moves, one of the things I’ve held fast to is our ‘forever home.’ It’s a term I’ve coined for the place we will have ‘after retirement.’
It’s a home that I’ve dreamt about, waited for, planned for, and looked forward to with great expectation. I know the kind of tile and hardwood I want on the floors, the classic white subway tile in my kitchen. I’ve considered the layout, the large hearth that will anchor the living room and the beautiful kitchen where my family will gather.
I’ve seen, in my mind’s eye, exactly what my barn will look like, the horses that would fill it, the animals that my kids will raise for the fair, and the lessons that will be learned from a life in the country. I’ve dreamt of the garden with a white picket fence, the type of flowers that will line it, what I will grow and the work and labor that will be poured into that garden.
I’ve wondered about the friends that would sit our kitchen table, what Thanksgivings and Christmases would feel like in that forever home. How my children would grow and eventually come back to this place. I’ve prayed that we would remember to give thanks to the Lord in all things in that home.
I’ve dreamt of how we will have verses inscribed on our doorposts just like it says in Deuteronomy 6: 6-9:
“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart…….You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Perhaps the verse will be Joshua 24:15:
“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”
or maybe Jeremiah 29:11:
"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I’ve imagined driving up and seeing it for the first time. Marveling that this is where the Lord has us, it’s the place we’ve been waiting for, the place where we will live the rest of our lives. It’s a good dream….
But in the imagining and waiting the Lord has whispered a sweet, gentle reminder to me: “Have you pondered nearly as much the home that I have created for you in Heaven (John 14: 2-4)? Have you thought about the streets of gold (Rev 21:21) and the room that I’ve lovingly prepared for you? Because I’ve promised a place for you. I’ve made a place for you….have you thought about it nearly as much as this earthly home that will certainly gather dust, be eaten by moths and simply grow old? Have you dreamt about your home in Heaven? About the day you will see Me and I will show you the place I’ve prepared for you?”
And the hard answer, the one no one wants to give, but for too many of us is true……is that I just haven’t, not nearly as much as I should have.
So, I am handing the Lord my “forever home”. I’m placing this dream in His trustworthy hands. I am handing Him my plans for that house. Knowing that wherever that “forever house” might be, whether on the plains, the mountains or tucked in the pocket of a hill with a stream running through it or if we might become missionaries and live far away, He has the best plan for us. And even if that forever house doesn’t have the view I wanted, the big hearth in the living room, the wraparound porch or cool bunkhouse for my someday grandkids…if it’s not all I thought it would be, His plan is still good, his promises are still true. No matter what my home looks like here on earth, in Heaven, it will be beautiful beyond imagination, more than we could have hoped for or dreamt of. And we will know true joy when we see him waiting.
What is it that you are dreaming of here on earth that the Lord has already prepared for you in heaven? What are you yearning for, or put in a place of something that He has already given to you? There is much…today can you earnestly hand him just one of those things and see all that He does with it?
Zack Eswine shared his painfully powerful testimony intertwined with Ecclesiastes 9:13-17 at the Loving the Wayward Souls Conference. He was vulnerable and transparent in his desire to protect us from seeking after the things of the world. Here are some of his thoughts on how can we recognize, keep from, or turn from, being the wayward fool...
“I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me. There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siege-works against it. But there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard. The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.” Ecclesiastes 9:13-17
Zack Eswine shared his painfully powerful testimony intertwined with this passage at the Loving the Wayward Souls Conference. He was vulnerable and transparent in his desire to protect us from seeking after the things of the world. Here are some of his thoughts on how can we keep from, or turn from, being the wayward fool?
Note the repetition of the word, “great” in this passage.
What seems great to the proud king is worthless compared to the saving wisdom of the poor man.
The foolish king is large, fast, and famous. He is all about speed and emotions. But though the words of the wise are only heard in the quiet, they save the city.
Do we take the time to listen as Jesus reaches into our frenzied schedules and whispers to us to behold Him?
On the one hand, the foolish king brings war for the sake of conquering and he does not protect the people under his care. Meanwhile, the poor man delivers the people from the onslaught and remains unknown.
How do you see people? Too often it seems we see people simply as resources used to improve our reputation. Do we consider how to best love others when we tweet, take selfies, and post on Facebook?
Instead, let us turn our back from foolishness and turn toward wisdom.
- Remind yourself who our Deliverer is. Christ is not interested in our efficiency or advertising, but in our holiness. He does not bring about immediate relief, He is about the business of sanctification. He delivers in the quiet wisdom of His Father. He doesn’t consume His sheep but protects them as He shares His Presence.
- Are we willing to offer our presence to the people the Lord has placed in our lives? How do we comfort others? Do we cry, eat, laugh, and live ‘with’ them? These things take time and resources. They are not for the faint of heart or for those who live in a rush.
- Does it matter to you if you are ignored by people of power, influence, and wealth? The poor wise man was not called upon by the powerful king. Can you be overlooked in order to love others? To love someone, we must commit ourselves to do small things, things that are not noticed or appreciated, and we must do them repeatedly, for a long time.
- Our culture tells us that we must always be busy, be on the move, always a foot on the next rung up. What does God tell us? Are you willing to be bored in the place that God has you? Do you appreciate the beauty of where you are at right now? Adam longed for more than the Garden. You, too, are given a place to be, things to do, and people to love. These are the things that glorify God.
Mr. Eswine ended by reminding us, “Your great hope is not in being remembered. Your hope is found in knowing that the Lord remembers you.” This is the Lord Jesus who prayed for you, you are already desired by God. Your identity is established before you even walk out the door.
These notes were taken from Zach Eswine’s talk, “A Fool’s Story: From Simple-ism to Hope”. You can listen to this here. If you feel that you are in a season of foolishness, please let someone pray with you. Contact me if you would like some resources.
I am a conservative, a news junkie, a history fan, and, at the time that I was invited to join a Men’s Bible Study in September 2014, I was hungry to learn more about the Bible, Jesus, and God the Father. Not every man who attends a Men’s Bible Study at MCC is exactly like me; that’s part of...
I am a conservative, a news junkie, a history fan, and, at the time that I was invited to join a Men’s Bible Study in September 2014, I was hungry to learn more about the Bible, Jesus, and God the Father. Not every man who attends a Men’s Bible Study at MCC is exactly like me; that’s part of what makes it unique. While we are all men in search of God, the similarities seem to end there. We each have different hobbies, careers, family situations, and life experiences.
However, those very differences strengthen the group. There is a sense of refuge that, as diverse as we are, we also share this walk. We may be in faith-hostile work environments or in-between jobs. We may be praying for study members’ or their family’s health, safe travels, and most important of all – salvation. In looking back over the past four years I can see the Lord has clearly answered many of these prayers and more.
Bible Study has more than fulfilled my expectations about learning from God’s word and walking in fellowship with other believers. Most importantly, though, the Lord’s word led me to discover what I am supposed to be doing with my life. It was a revelation that I didn’t expect from a Bible Study.
Over the past four years, the Bible Study I attend has studied Revelation, John, Romans, and four of the five books of the Pentateuch (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). These studies have made me appreciate the continuity of God’s Word across Old and New testaments, always pointing toward the inevitability of Christ.
Although I had read and studied parts of each of these books in years past, I am regularly surprised at how much more the Lord reveals to me by hearing the meaning and significance of the sections to others. Reading God’s Word with other men, hearing their insights and understanding, and discussing the scriptures as a group, provides me a whole new understanding of God’s Word.
Ultimately, I have two great take-aways from my time in Bible Study.
First, we are called to share the gospel with as many people as we can. This is the imperative for what we do with our lives. We never have to fear speaking or sharing the gospel, as we are promised that the Holy Spirit is helping us find the right words.
Second, the Lord directs, repeatedly, to neither add nor take away from His Word in the Scripture. For me, this is a great help in discerning what others are saying or how they are interpreting the Bible.
Just go back to the original word and the Lord will help us understand it. For me, His help has come in the form of Men’s Bible Study at MCC.
MCC has two Men’s Bible Studies beginning in September; Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) and Christianity Explored (CE). BSF will study of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. CE examines “What is Christianity?” and seeks to answer deep questions Christians and non-believers have about the faith.
It's surprising where God places you isn’t it? I would have never imagined myself volunteering at a...
It's surprising where God places you isn’t it? I would have never imagined myself volunteering at a pregnancy center; I’ve never been pregnant and have no personal information to share with young couples experiencing pregnancy. But, I've been volunteering at the Care Net Pregnancy Center for four years and I know that God has placed me in the right position, to help serve people in need, in the best possible way for His glory.
Volunteering with Care Net is a constant reminder that God's plan is always good, even if it’s not what you originally planned for.
God has been doing some big things through Care Net in the first half of 2018 that I would like to share with you:
- The “Know Now Medical Mobile Unit” (MMU) has been in operation for a year and a half and we are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of clients whose original choice was termination or who were undecided when they arrived at their initial visit. The presence of the MMU near the surgical abortion facilities in Albuquerque is changing lives. Women who once thought their only option was to terminate their pregnancy can now see an ultrasound and learn the truth about the baby they are carrying. It has been a game changer! Very recently, two women at the end of their second trimester of pregnancy boarded the bus, had an ultrasound, and decided to give birth to their children. We thank God for these dramatic "turn-arounds."
- The Care Net medical services are expanding with the addition of a Certified Physician's Assistant. Her credentials allow us to provide prescriptions to treat two of the STI's for which we test and the Abortion Pill reversal medication. This opens up yet another opportunity to provide life-saving help to our clients.
- Care Net is now offering a Fatherhood Program. Instead of concentrating on just the mother of the unborn, we now offer counseling and important information for the fathers-to-be. It is becoming a vital piece of the Care Net ministry.
Care Net is always looking for additional volunteers. If you're like me, and wonder "What could I possibly do to help this ministry?" but your heart is compassionate about helping our youth with unplanned pregnancy, I encourage you to get involved!
You can also get involved this Saturday, August 25th at the Care Net Walk for Life Event. There are four locations in Albuquerque and the East Mountains. By attending the walk, you are affirming the sanctity of human life and supporting Care Net! Hope to see you there!
Too often we assume that church is supposed to be a “perfect” place full of “good” people. We feel like we would love it if our church was made up of 250 copies of ourselves, full of people who think and act like we do. Truth is, the less people are like us the harder it is to love them. People are messy and carry the streak of sin; sadly enough, that includes you and me...
Too often we assume that church is supposed to be a “perfect” place full of “good” people. We feel like we would love it if our church was made up of 252 people who think and act like we do. The truth is, the less people are like us, the harder it is to love them. People are messy and carry the streak of sin; sadly enough, that includes you and me.
Blogger Tim Challies presented “a Heavenly Perspective of the Prodigal” using Luke 15 to illustrate the depth of our Savior’s love for His desperate people. Some realize they are desperate and others don’t, and maybe never will.
As you read Mr. Challies’ description of the Parable of the Lost Sheep ask yourself: Does every sheep know that it needs a Shepherd?
Luke 15:4a - A Shepherd’s Anguish: The Shepherd’s heart skips a beat. Something is wrong! One of his sheep is missing! This is a Good Shepherd who knows that His sheep is missing. It is the speckled one, the one with the bent ear. The Shepherd had cared for the mother, was there when the sheep was born, he has loved this sheep, provided for it as He watched it grow. And now it’s missing! He worries because the Shepherd knows that sheep are not nature’s survivalists. They are absolutely dependent on the Shepherd.
Luke 15:4b - A Shepherd’s Quest: Sheep wander. Sheep are wolf-bait. It’s not a compliment to be called a sheep, and yet, it is the description of us in the world. The Shepherd does not leave sheep to be devoured, He cries out, “My flock will never be complete without this ONE!” The only measure of success is to find and rescue it.
Through all of this what does the sheep consider? Nothing. What does the Shepherd consider? Everything. He is the one who leads, loves, listens and searches until He finds that ONE sheep.
Luke 15:5-6 - A Shepherd’s Joy: What joy when He finds the sheep! He doesn’t rebuke or punish it. He is not disgusted by it and doesn’t say the sheep has to work its way back. He does not berate or hold a grudge. He doesn’t tell the sheep it made Him look bad. Instead, He is full of joy! God loves to seek, speak to, and save the lost.
Jesus is talking to us – the church! God saves sinners!
“I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7)
Note the contrast in Luke 15 – on one hand there are the tax collectors and sinners and on the other are the Pharisees. The tax collectors and sinners are the people who are seen as “bad”. They know they are "bad" and they know that most people don’t want them around. But Jesus not only accepts their hospitality, He actually enjoys their company.
Then there are the Pharisees. By worldly standards, they are considered the “good” people. They make sure that everyone can see how "good" they are. They want you to know they are holy and obey rules with a flare. When the Pharisees see Jesus with the taxes collectors and sinners they think that He needs higher standards.
Even then, the “good” people didn’t want to spend time with the “bad” people because it might ruin their hard-earned reputation. They want to protect their “goodness” at any cost.
Today, you and I have much the same choice to make: are we the sinners or the Pharisees? Although the “titles” might be different, the premise is still the same. Do we worry that if we spend time with certain people, it might diminish our reputations? Who are the “sinners and tax collectors” in your church and community? Whose reputation are we afraid will tarnish our own?
Are you willing to spend time with those whom Christian culture deems unacceptable? Maybe you are nice to them on Sunday morning, but do you have them in your homes? Do you let them around your children?
We are so grateful that we have a Savior who extends grace to us. It should be our joy to help others out of the mess they have made. It is the very joy of angels!
In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)
Do you make it your purpose to seek out sinners? If God cares so much for the lost, how can you ignore them? Do you long for His sheep? Do you welcome them in your fold? Do you have confidence in the character of the Shepherd?
Consider your own “lostness”, fellow sheep. He sought us out and drew us to Himself. When we recognize how lost we are, offering grace to fellow lost sheep seems far less daunting.
Do you know a prodigal who has wandered from the fold?
It is not because of confidence in ourselves to reach out, but in the Good shepherd who loves to rescue!
These notes were taken from Tim Challies’ talk, “The Parable of the Lost Sheep”. If you find that you are struggling with loving another in your church, please ask someone to help you. If you would like, you can contact me at email@example.com for prayer, accountability, and resources.
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Women’s Fellowship Evening Bible Study
Begins September 12th at 5:30. Please bring your bible and your favorite side-dish or dessert and join us! We will discuss Sunday’s Sermon. Contact Elizabeth.
Join us for MCC’s End of Summer Picnic!
Embudo Hills Park in Albuquerque. (Same as last year)
Bring your family, food & drinks, chairs/blanket and lawn games! Water bottles and dessert provided.
Contact Yolette Roybal for more information.
Shine is forming a Cookie Posse! This will be a group of people who would like to bless the staff at A. Montoya with fresh-baked cookies! Each time a staff member reaches into our cookie jar, it'll be like getting a big hug from one of us. Please let Ashley Procter or Marcy Bryant know if you are interested in becoming a part of the Cookie Posse!
Also, Shine is setting up a unique food pantry at A. Montoya! Kids often go to bed without dinner, come to school too late for breakfast, and aren't sure if there will be dinner that night. We have been asked to create a small food pantry at the school that would contain items like tuna packets, apples, macaroni and cheese, Ensure or Boost, peanut butter crackers, nuts, and the like. The children could keep these items in their backpacks so that they would always have something to keep them going. We are working on putting together a list of items, including gluten-free ones, that we would like to stock the pantry with. Please pray about whether you would like to donate items or money to help keep the pantry stocked year-round!