Throughout my life God has blessed me with strong mentors. Each has exercised influence in different ways, at different times and on different aspects of my life. Some have taught me about life, some have taught me how to treat others, some have helped me with my professional development, while others have taught me the simple joy of fly-fishing. Each have helped make me who I am. In some cases the...
Throughout my life God has blessed me with strong mentors. Each has exercised influence in different ways, at different times and on different aspects of my life. Some have taught me about life, some have taught me how to treat others, some have helped me with my professional development, while others have taught me the simple joy of fly-fishing. Each have helped make me who I am. In some cases the mentoring involved a deliberate process of instruction, practice, evaluation and discipline. Examples include my father and my research advisor in graduate school. Other mentoring has been much more informal--learning by osmosis as I observed the actions and reactions of my mentor.
Although my father has been the most influential person in my life I want to talk about a more informal influence. One that occurred at a critical juncture in my life. Within a few days of getting married, I whisked Penny off to Tucson to start graduate school. We knew no one. But upon visiting Mountain Road Church of Christ we were quickly adopted. Ed and Joann made a practice of gathering up young students and providing a sense of extended family.
It all started with simple hospitality. Ed and Joann opened their house on a weekly basis for bible study and fellowship. Although they were empty nesters, they were in the practice of collecting kids. Most weeks saw 20 plus students descending on their house. It was warm and welcoming with goodies to eat. In fact, there were times when Ed and Joann were traveling and would just give one of us the keys to open the house.
The focus was on the Word of God. The ultimate purpose for our gathering was to study God’s Word together. Every week we worked from the Bible. Ed would have a prepared lesson. Lessons were designed to evoke discussion. Through the discussion he would challenge us to dig deeper, exercise our understanding and confront disagreements and misunderstandings. Although an elder and able-bible-scholar he was slow to force his knowledge on us, rather he encouraged us to think, question and discover.
That which was not spoken is what spoke most loudly. I learned a lot from Ed and Joann’s teaching, but I learned more just observing their actions. They spoke with their time. Ed and Joann genuinely cared for Penny and I. They cared enough to invest their time and talent in us. This got my attention. They spoke with their marriage. They modeled a marriage grounded in God. How they talked about each other, how they responded to one another, their funny and serious life stories all provided a model that Penny and I could relate to and wanted to emulate. They spoke through a servant’s heart. Although a vice-president of a very large defense contractor, Ed was much more comfortable serving in the church and community. Most importantly, he and Joann spoke through their faith. Their faith was evident in every action they took, in the way they treated others and in the priorities that they set for their lives.
God placed Ed and Joann in our lives at a critical juncture. It wasn’t so much that Penny and I were just married and away from home; rather, it was this point in life that we were left with the decision to make our Faith our own. Would I just go through the motions of being a Christian or would I commit my life to my Lord and Savior. Ed and Joann provided a tangible model beyond that of my parents. I liked what I saw and wanted that for my life. Not that I wanted to be like Ed and Joann; rather, they taught me to want to pursue a relationship with God. Although Ed passed many years ago his passion and commitment continue to encourage me to this day.
When we serve others, something really cool happens. Something small, yet significant. Something that you don’t expect and really don’t get anywhere else. It’s a small glow inside that sparks love… only it’s a different kind of love than the world is used to. It’s not romantic, it’s not selfish, and it doesn’t have strings attached, it’s not even the familia type love; it’s deeper than that. It’s the kind of love that takes your breath away just by thinking about it and realizing all that it has accomplished. It’s the eternal love that can only come from Christ. It is different than any other...
When we serve others, something really cool happens. Something small, yet significant. Something that you don’t expect and really don’t get anywhere else. It’s a small glow inside that sparks love… only it’s a different kind of love than the world is used to. It’s not romantic, it’s not selfish, and it doesn’t have strings attached, it’s not even the familia type love; it’s deeper than that. It’s the kind of love that takes your breath away just by thinking about it and realizing all that it has accomplished. It’s the eternal love that can only come from Christ. It is different than any other kind of love because while we possess it, it’s not something we grow ourselves. It’s something we’ve been given and are to give freely. It’s nothing we can selfishly hold onto, as if it’s our decision on who gets it. It is supposed to run wild and free as we interact with those around us; and the best way to unlock it? To serve others and let it flow.
Think about which brings more joy and peace: doing the things you want to do or serving others selflessly? Our first response might be “doing the things you want to do!” But what if we could see the impact of serving others, all the tendrils that stretch out when we serve? I think we’d be rushing to do it far more often, not seeing it as an obligation but a joy. A joy multiplied at that! You see, our serving others never impacts just one person. It reaches far beyond our imagination and proves again and again just how amazing the love of Christ is.
You may think you’re blessing a single individual when you’ve served them in some way, but consider Psalm 119: 90,
“Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth and it stands fast.”
And Psalm 102:18,
“Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.” (emphasis mine)
Christ’s love doesn’t just affect our generation, but generations yet to be created! When I think about that verse, one particular person is brought to mind: my mom’s Granny. This woman impacted generations by serving others around her. Most importantly for me, she impacted my mother and set an amazing example of how to live for Christ. She’s one of those people that I look forward to meeting someday in heaven. I could tell you so many stories about her that have been told to me by mom… and I can’t wait to share those stories with the next generation, just like the verse Psalms said. Because the fact is, my mom has had an amazing opportunity to share Christ’s love to continue that impact forward because of the example Granny set for her.
Most of you have heard about and may even be praying for my Great-Aunt Becky who is dealing with lung cancer, but some of you may not know about my mother’s involvement with it. My Aunt Becky isn’t related to us by blood. She married into the family and has no kids. When her husband died, she moved back to ABQ to be closer to us and her friends here. With the new diagnosis of cancer just this year, my mom stepped up to help with driving, prepping food, etc. When my aunt hit a low point in health and energy, my mom pretty much moved in with her to be able to help her with daily living.
I got to witness all this first hand and yes, it impacted me. More importantly, it impacted my aunt. Just two weeks ago she accepted Christ as her Savior! It was an incredibly joyous day for us, and we’re still praising God for His goodness through the pain. My mom continues serving and while my Aunt Becky may have been the recipient of this serving, it also made an impression on her friends, neighbors, and old coworkers who saw a woman, unrelated by blood, step in to help and serve selflessly. I’m praying that the impact of that reaches their hearts, too, that they may also know this amazing love both inside and out.
So how are we jumping in and serving this year? What might 2020 look like for you? How are our prayers, lives and examples impacting the generations to come? When we give of ourselves and die to self, it’s a beautiful picture of what Christ did for us. All the more reason to jump into it joyfully and with the awe inspiring humility of feeling that incredible love flow through us to others.
Several years ago Emily and I chose to be purposeful in how we celebrate Christmas. But last year, faced with a visit from family, we were stretched beyond our comfort zone. My older brother, Seth, and I used to be very close. As young men we traveled the world and planned to be missionaries in Asia. Over the years we grew apart, both getting married and starting our own families. We did not converse regularly. He eventually...
Several years ago Emily and I chose to be purposeful in how we celebrate Christmas. But last year, faced with a visit from family, we were stretched beyond our comfort zone.
My older brother, Seth, and I used to be very close. As young men we traveled the world and planned to be missionaries in Asia. Over the years we grew apart, both getting married and starting our own families. We did not converse regularly. He eventually divorced his wife and decided he was agnostic.
A couple of years ago we were informed that Seth’s oldest daughter (age 14 at the time) was coming out as transgender. She had begun hormone therapy and her name was legally changed to “Vincent”. Our daughters remembered playing dolls with their cousin and dressing up as princesses. Explaining this development to them was a struggle.
Early December 2018, my parents let slip that Seth and Vincent would be paying a surprise visit to NM. This news drove us to focus outward in uncomfortable ways.
Emily and I sought council from several people whom we respect. They joined our family in prayer. We had numerous conversations with the kids prior to this Christmas visit. They came to understand the need to lean on Christ, show love, and be a light.
Leading up to their visit, Vincent expressed feelings of anxiety and trepidation, not sure how our family would react. Emily offered assurance. “Everyone here is aware of the changes that have happened in your life since we saw you last. Everyone here loves you and no one will be unkind or hurtful.”
I spoke with my brother and made arrangements for him and Vincent to stay with us for several days during the Christmas season. Since his stay would be over a weekend, I asked Seth if he would like to go to church with us and, to my surprise, he agreed.
As Seth traveled to our home on Saturday evening, his vehicle broke down. He called to let me know that he would be stuck in Belen for several days while his car was being repaired. Feeling certain that my brother needed to come to church with us, I offered to go get him and have him stay with us while his vehicle was being repaired.
Seth and Vincent came to church with us. That morning Pastor Frank was leading worship and said “I am going to do communion a little differently today.” He wanted us to pray with the person next to us before we took communion. I kind of freaked out, not sure what my brother would think of me praying for him. Even so, I prayed out loud “God, I pray that Seth could experience your love without strings attached”.
On our way home, my brother brought this up. He said “I don’t think I have ever experienced love without strings attached.” This lead to an incredible conversation about legalism in our upbringing, God’s love, and His desire for relationship.
We were incredibly blessed by our church family at MCC through this experience. Both those in leadership and young people alike welcomed my family with open arms. Seth expressed that his visit to MCC was one of the most positive church experiences of his life.
God orchestrates events and uses His people. He refocuses our priorities and accomplishes His Will. May we see this every Christmas season.
I once knew a little girl who grew up in a family where both parents were alcoholics, she was the baby of three girls, all 5 years apart. The parents moved their family across the country away from all family support and oversight, so they were in survival mode, and didn't make time to raise the girls. Their motto was, "children are to be seen and not heard". Frequently there was no money for food, and her parents were too proud to get the girls on a free, or reduced lunch rate at school. At the age of six...
I once knew a little girl who grew up in a family where both parents were alcoholics; she was the baby of three girls, all 5 years apart. The parents moved their family across the country away from all family support and oversight, so they were in survival mode and didn't make time to raise the girls. Their motto was, "children are to be seen and not heard". Frequently there was no money for food, and her parents were too proud to get the girls on a free or reduced lunch rate at school.
At the age of six, the Sunday before this little girl’s first day of school EVER, her mom walked her to school, explaining to turn left at the Jack-and-Jill Donut shop to get to school. Then she was instructed to "walk in through those doors tomorrow when you get to school, find an adult, tell them your name, they will help you get to your class." So, the next day the 6-year-old little girl dutifully got out of bed, got dressed, and walked to school in a very bad neighborhood.
The girls rarely felt welcome inside the home or safe outside in the bad neighborhood, and drama was ever present, as one would expect in that kind of environment. One night the parents had a Christmas party (there was somehow always enough money for alcohol), and the little girl got scared, so she asked her mom to come lie down with her until she fell asleep. But her father yelled at her, scaring her even more. One of the party guests came to the rescue, offering to lie down with the little girl, saying she was tired anyway because she was pregnant.
That sweet lady told that little girl that night all about Jesus and how, if she prayed, Jesus would hear and answer her prayers. Then she asked if they could pray together. The little girl enthusiastically agreed - she didn't have any other adults to help her, maybe this Jesus would.
She just couldn't stop thinking about that, so in all the infinite wisdom of a 6-year-old, she decided to test this out. She wanted a dog so badly, but she knew there wasn't enough food for the humans, what was the likelihood of getting a dog? But what did she have to lose? So, operation 'DOG PRAYER' began - and within a week the prayer lady and her family were moving and couldn't take their basset hound, Precious, and voila! PRAYER ANSWERED! Hmm, she thought, this Jesus is pretty cool and proceeded to pray for a bike - just as unlikely as the first prayer. Maybe even less likely, because her parents were both animal lovers. So, Operation 'BIKE PRAYER' commenced. It wasn't long before some of the neighborhood kids all donated pieces and parts from their bikes, and her dad put it all together and painted it and Voila! Another PRAYER ANSWERED!
"I will be forever grateful for that precious lady who stood up to my Dad, comforted me that Christmas season, and introduced me to Jesus."
Not long after that, the parents were "out" and their car got towed back to the home before either parent came back. There were two head prints busted through the windshield with blood all over everything. The dad ended up in jail and the Mom in the hospital that night. So, the little girl's prayers turned into some much more important topics than a bike or a dog.
But eventually she forgot about Jesus and prayer all together.
It wasn't until she was in her late 20's that she picked up a Science magazine that had an article about dogs that the Bible came into her radar - an unlikely source, I know - but that's just how God works! The article told of a study where they brought two sets of dogs into a clinic and tested to make sure they were all healthy. Then they cut into the dogs’ bones to make sure the bone marrow was good. One group of dogs were caged separately for two weeks and only their basic survival needs were met. No love, no interaction with the techs or the other dogs. The second group of dogs all got to live together, and the techs would love and play with them a lot. Then they cut into the bones again, and the dogs who lacked the love, affection, and companionship had the bone marrow drying up. The article then quoted Prov 17:22:
"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."
That was enough to make me think, "If that's true, what else in the Bible is true". That little girl was me - and as I look back over my life, I can see - God was with me, watching over and protecting me the whole time - ever since that first prayer I prayed at the age of 6.
I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who takes the time to love and care for you own kids, and a very special thanks to those of you who love and care for your kids’ friends. You never know what they are dealing with at home. The kindness and love of an adult for a child is PRICELESS, and you never know what God's Plan for them is - I will be forever grateful for that precious lady who stood up to my Dad, comforted me that Christmas season, and introduced me to Jesus.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Have you seen the card in the bulletin recently? The one with the Christmas Eve Service information? Christmas is one of the times when we are encouraged to invite family, friends, neighbors and co-workers to church – and with good reason – Advent so clearly shows God’s love for mankind. Maybe you’re one of those for whom extending an invitation is ‘second nature’, it’s easy for you and everyone you invite comes, has a wonderful time and ends up coming to church regularly. If that’s you, then don’t bother reading the rest of this, just keep on extending those invitations! If you’re like me and you’re a little...
Have you seen the card in the bulletin recently? The one with the Christmas Eve Service information? Christmas is one of the times when we are encouraged to invite family, friends, neighbors and co-workers to church – and with good reason – Advent so clearly shows God’s love for mankind. Maybe you’re one of those for whom extending an invitation is ‘second nature’, it’s easy for you and everyone you invite comes, has a wonderful time, and ends up coming to church regularly. If that’s you, then don’t bother reading the rest of this, just keep on extending those invitations!
If you’re like me and you’re a little uncomfortable inviting folks, or if you get tired of getting turned down, or discouraged when people make excuses and brush you off when you bring up God, then keep reading.
When I feel tired and discouraged (and it happens way more than I like to admit) I try to remember what the apostle Paul told both the Galatians and the Thessalonians “do not grow weary in doing good”. (Galatians 6:9 and 2 Thessalonians 3:13). Inviting people to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest good we can do. Gordon Keddie puts it this way “The greatest privilege of the Christian, apart from his own experience of salvation and eternal life, is to be a channel of God’s love towards others and a means of leading them to the Lord.” However you engage with people in this season, try to be a channel of God’s love. It might be inviting someone to come to church with you, or a service project with neighbors and friends, or being intentional to include Christ in your casual conversations about Christmas.
“The greatest privilege of the Christian, apart from his own experience of salvation and eternal life, is to be a channel of God’s love towards others and a means of leading them to the Lord.”
It’s taken more than a few years, but I’ve learned a couple of things from these passages Paul wrote. In 2 Thessalonians 3 Paul starts the chapter with “brothers pray for us that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored”. Prayer is the best preparation we can make in order to do good without becoming weary. Prayer reminds us that God will do the heavy lifting; it doesn’t depend on us! When I become weary and discouraged it is often because I’ve been trying to do it on my own, which never works.
Another thing I’ve learned is that the timing is the Lord’s. In Galatians 6 Paul finishes his admonition to not grow weary in doing good with “for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up”. Sometimes when we are that channel of God’s love we get to see the results right away. Sometimes it can take years, or we might not see it at all. It all unfolds according to God’s timetable. I used to think that if I didn’t see results right away that I had somehow failed. For us as Christians, having our invitation rejected, or not seeing results right away when someone hears the gospel is not failure. Failure for us is becoming weary of doing good and not being that channel of love, inviting others to share the joy of the gospel.
So, who are you praying for that you’re going to give that card to? You know, the one that has the Christmas Eve Service info…
MCC is beginning a new discipleship-based women’s ministry called Titus 2 Discipleship. This is a small group ministry created to teach, encourage and celebrate discipleship. There are numerous times available and meetings are monthly.
If you are interested, please talk or text Christine Leggett or catch one of the ladies in the foyer to sign up this Sunday!
The Bolivia Mission Team is hosting their annual Pie Silent-Auction between services February 16 in the Fellowship Hall! There will be cake, cookies, sweet and savory pies, and more. It is a fun event with lots of laughs, delicious goodies and is a great way to support the mission team! Contact Jennifer Ward with questions or to let her know you can donate something for the silent auction.
A. Montoya Elementary is hosting their annual Science Fair on Wednesday, March 25 from 8:00 am-12:00pm. Shine and MCC volunteers have been a vital part of this Science Fair for the past few years and are such a blessing to the students! The Science Fair Board is looking for interviewers who can listen to student’s presentation, share feedback, and help students celebrate their achievements. A background check is required. Please contact Ashley Procter by Friday, March 6 to volunteer!
Save the Date:
Vacation Bible School is scheduled for
July 13-17, 2020.