Reflection from Ps. Bill

Dear Logos Family,

“Will you not revive us again,

That your people may rejoice in you?” Psalm 85:6 (ESV)

We enjoyed Pastor Larry Jung’s visit last Sunday. He spoke to us from Psalm 85:6….the pleading of the Psalmist to revive the people of Israel. 

The context of this psalm is difficult. Israel was captive in Babylon for seventy years, beginning in 586 B.C. God allowed the temple to be destroyed in Palestine, but He remained present with the Israelites throughout their captivity. 

One of the principles we discussed over the weekend was the idea that VITALITY IS LOST OVER TIME. Whether you live in times of great wealth and prosperity or whether you live in times of need it seems to be a truism that spiritual vitality can be lost as we allow other things to move in front of our relationships with God. 

Today in America the Church’s greatest problem is spiritual complacency. In Revelation 3 Laodicea is singled out as a church that enjoyed material prosperity but did not realize that they were “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Rev 3:17) They were characterized as being “lukewarm” and thus of no benefit to the growth of God’s kingdom.

Larry asked us three probing questions:

·       Is being a comfortable church what God wants?

·       Does your church care about your community?

·       If Jesus visited your church would he think it’s as good as you think it is?

Larry exhorted us to pray for our own personal revival and for the revival of our church. Revival begins with prayer.

I want to second that. Pray daily for your own personal renewal, that you will hunger and thirst for more of God in your life. And pray also for the vision team and the session as they continue to meet together and seek the Lord to draft a strategic plan of what the church will look like in the years ahead. 

May the Lord transform us into a winsome witness for the growth of His kingdom on earth “as it is in heaven!

Shalom,

Pastor Bill

Reflection fron P.s Bill

Dear Logos Family,

“Will you not revive us again,

That your people may rejoice in you?” Psalm 85:6 (ESV)

We enjoyed Pastor Larry Jung’s visit last Sunday. He spoke to us from Psalm 85:6….the pleading of the Psalmist to revive the people of Israel. 

The context of this psalm is difficult. Israel was captive in Babylon for seventy years, beginning in 586 B.C. God allowed the temple to be destroyed in Palestine, but He remained present with the Israelites throughout their captivity. 

One of the principles we discussed over the weekend was the idea that VITALITY IS LOST OVER TIME. Whether you live in times of great wealth and prosperity or whether you live in times of need it seems to be a truism that spiritual vitality can be lost as we allow other things to move in front of our relationships with God. 

Today in America the Church’s greatest problem is spiritual complacency. In Revelation 3 Laodicea is singled out as a church that enjoyed material prosperity but did not realize that they were “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Rev 3:17) They were characterized as being “lukewarm” and thus of no benefit to the growth of God’s kingdom.

Larry asked us three probing questions:

·       Is being a comfortable church what God wants?

·       Does your church care about your community?

·       If Jesus visited your church would he think it’s as good as you think it is?

Larry exhorted us to pray for our own personal revival and for the revival of our church. Revival begins with prayer.

I want to second that. Pray daily for your own personal renewal, that you will hunger and thirst for more of God in your life. And pray also for the vision team and the session as they continue to meet together and seek the Lord to draft a strategic plan of what the church will look like in the years ahead. 

May the Lord transform us into a winsome witness for the growth of His kingdom on earth “as it is in heaven!

Shalom,

Pastor Bill

Reflection from Ps. Bill

Dear Logos Family, 

                            “Be still and know that I am God.

                                          I will be exalted among the nations,

                            I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

I want to commend an artist and a cd to you. His name is Michael O’Brien and the name of his cd is “Be Still My Soul.” You can type in his name on YouTube and listen.  This Sunday we are going to integrate one of his songs into the service. 

Several weeks ago I spoke on “Preemptive prayer.” Part of “preemptive prayer” is going to that quiet place each morning and being with God. You don’t always have to speak. Sometimes it’s best not to say anything in order to allow your soul to be at rest. You just have to be present, because He is present. He is with you in that quiet place.

There is a lot to stress us out today – Coronavirus, the presidential election, an unstable economy, family stress, health issues, lonliness, addiction…. I’m sure you can add to the list.

There is something powerful about being still and present with the Lord. Jesus was so not like the world. He said things like

                           “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart. And you will have rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-30

What king or presidential leader is willing to call themselves “gentle” and “lowly in heart?” 

How counter-cultural, how other-worldly! If you watched the presidential debate this week you know what I’m talking about.

Personally, I need less television and more time with God. There is something in me that is addicted to constant noise, constant computer images, constant activity, constant work. If there is quiet, I want to fill it with something. 

Our spiritual fathers and mothers used to teach that the anecdote for the things that ail us is to practice the opposite….if you struggle with materialism, practice giving; if you struggle with workaholism, practice solitude and prayer; if you struggle with food or drink, practice fasting. If you’re alone too much, seek out friendship.   

May His peace be in your heart.

Pastor Bill

Reflection from Ps. Bill

Dear Logos Family

“And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matt 4:19 (ESV)

“He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.” John 21:6 (ESV)

Last night at Vision Team meeting we asked the question, “Why would Jesus bookend his ministry with Miraculous Catches of Fish?”

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he called Peter and John and gave them a new life’s purpose, “….I will make you become fishers of men.” (Matt 4:19) After the resurrection Jesus stood on the shore and advised Peter and John to throw their net on the right side of the boat.   Immediately the net was full of fish! John counted 153.

Fishing for men is a partnership with Jesus. It’s not all God, it’s not all men. We work together. And the Lord shows us where, when and how!

Years ago I served as the Pastor of Evangelism at a large church in North Carolina. I was mentored by a man who had served as the pastor of evangelism at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta GA. It was the largest church in our former denomination.

One of the things he taught me about evangelism was the importance of following-up people after they visited the church. Each week I would gather “visitor attendance cards” and make phone calls to those who had visited once, twice up to three times. I wanted them to learn how important they were to the church and I wanted to invite them to join the church. (In the South belonging to a church is a strong tradition.)

I learned from my mentor that evangelism had a lot to do with personal invitation and follow-up. People need to know God loves them and are cared for by the people of God!

Last night I asked the Vision Team three questions related to fishing for men:

1.      Do you want the church to grow?

2.      Do you pray for the church to grow and expect God to answer?

3.      Do you know what to do with new people when they arrive?

My regular prayer is that Logos becomes a church that passionately desires for people to come to Christ and “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus!”

Fishing together,

Pastor Bill

Reflection from Ps. Bill

Dear Logos Flock,

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-14

This Saturday Christos will be starting a three-session discussion on the “Essentials of Faith” in the EPC. At our first session we will look at the first three essentials which have to do with the Trinity.  

Each paragraph of the “Essentials” is a carefully crafted statement on each of the Three Persons of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  The wording on the Person of the Holy Spirit relies primarily on Scripture. The other two paragraphs on God the Father and God the Son are also heavily influenced by Scripture but also lean into the historic Confessions – the Nicene Creed, the Apostles Creed and the Westminster Confession of Faith. 

I am so grateful for the Person of the Holy Spirit. He is our “Helper” (Jn 15:26), and Jesus said that He will “guide us into all the truth.” The Holy Spirit not only speaks what he hears from the Father and the Son, but he will “declare things that are to come.” (16:13)

Theologically speaking we live in the “last days.” That is, we live between the time of Jesus’ ascension and His second coming. I don’t know about you, but lately, it feels like we really are living in the “last days!” 

The last two days I’ve awakened with headaches from smoky air. This morning we woke up to an email from a former congregant in rural Northern California asking prayer for another congregant who is fighting to save his one hundred year old family homestead from raging fires. 

We live at a time of a one-hundred year pandemic, extreme civil unrest across America, a struggling economy and now hazardous smoke that is contentedly making its home over the entire West Coast from raging wild fires. 

Today I take comfort that the Holy Spirit dwells within me and is my Helper in “times of trouble.” May the Spirit of God who dwells within you, “hover” over you (Genesis 1:2) and bring you comfort and calm today. The Spirit hears our prayers and makes intercession to the Father on our behalf even when our words seem inadequate. 

Grace and peace,

Pastor Bill

Reflection from Ps. Bill

Dear Logos Flock,

“And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Deut 8:3

It’s a truism about human nature that we often do not appreciate the value of something until it’s taken away and we no longer have it. 

God knows this. He made the Israelites eat only manna when they wandered through the wilderness. Not only would they come to appreciate real food that they would eventually receive in abundance when they entered the promised land – a land “flowing with milk and honey” – but He also wanted them to understand that more important than food was the word of God that nourished the soul.

Like the Israelites we are in danger of not valuing God’s word. Ironically, in America, there seems to be an over-abundance of ‘the word of God.’ Bibles are easily obtainable. You can drive down to your local Christian bookstore or order a Bible online in any translation you prefer with a soft, hard or leather jacket! Heck, you don’t even need a physical Bible anymore. You can just download it on your favorite Bible “app.”  

Yet who is really hungry for the word of God? Who reads and studies God’s word except pastors? (I hope some of you are saying, “I do, I do!”)  Could it be that it is so readily available in so many forms that we have lost our appetite for it? Or do we have just too many other tantalizing distractions? (Have you enjoyed your sabbatical from sports during the pandemic?) 

I’ve mentioned before that I spent a summer in Mexico serving on an orphanage. We ate with the kids – oatmeal for breakfast, rice and beans for lunch and dinner every day. Mid-summer I contracted an amoeba so I couldn’t stomach rice and beans anymore. You know what happened besides the obvious that I lost weight? 

My soul began to hunger for the word of God! I sensed God’s presence reading Scripture in the morning. My soul was filled with the joy of the Lord! Relationships became more meaningful! It was hot, dry and dusty and all we had was each other. Nothing to entertain us except school in the morning. But somehow that didn’t matter. Doing less actually produced a greater appreciation for what I did have! Less became more! I could more fully appreciate the psalmist’s words: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.” Ps 34:8  

Sometimes it takes a ‘desert experience’ to rediscover the richness of God’s word!

Pastor Bill

Reflection from Ps. Bill

Dear Logos Family,

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.’” Mark 1:35-36

According to leading experts, keeping a steady routine is important to maintaining a strong sense of focus, organization and productivity.

But there’s one routine that is arguably the most important of all: your time alone with God.  Setting aside time to pray and communicate with God will have an immeasurable impact on everything you do in life.

Why is prayer and time alone with God such an important routine to start out the day?

If we look back at our Scripture in Mark 1:35-36 we find that Jesus went to a “desolate” place to be alone with the Father. He needed that time to bring peace to his heart, and to seek the Father’s will for the day.

Because sure enough other things were about to encroach on Jesus’ day demanding his time and attention. Read again what happens in very 36:

“….Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’”

Simon and the other disciples searched for Jesus. They woke up and realized Jesus wasn’t in camp and they panicked and thought, ‘Where is he?’ And they ran and looked for Jesus until they found him.

Some of you know that experience of being “searched for.” Maybe you’ve heard these words many times: “Where’s mom?” “Has anyone seen mom around?” Or at work:  “Where did “so and so” go? I need to ask him a question!” “Where’s the boss?”

Jesus knew how important it was to spend time alone with God before the onslaught of the day’s demands. People and deadlines can drain you.

Do you need a friendly reminder to renew your routine to start your day by spending time alone with God?

Peace and joy,

Pastor Bill

Reflection from Ps. Bill

Dear Logos Flock,

              O Lord, our Lord,

                           How majestic is your name in all the earth!

              When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

                           The moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

              What is man that you are mindful of him,

                           And the son of man that you care for him?

              You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;

                           You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen,

              And also the beasts of the field,

the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,

              Whatever passes along the paths of the seas. Ps 8:1, 3-4, 6-9 (ESV)

Jennifer and I just returned from a three-night camping trip around the “Cascade Loop.” We highly recommend it if you like breathtaking scenery. The stretch along highway 20 through the North Cascades National Park is particularly spectacular. It definitely rivals Glacier National Park in Montana considered by many to be the most scenic National Park in America.

The psalmist reflects on the majestic nature of God and the work of his “fingers.” None of it is by accident. He has carefully set the moon and stars in their respective places. We know how accurately our solar system is constructed with the planets orbiting around the sun and the earth perfectly situated for animal and human life.   

The creation gives evidence to the existence of God. We call this “general revelation.” How can you look at the world and the universe and all of its exquisite beauty and not be convinced that a higher power had a hand in its formation!

Yet even with all this grand creativity the psalmist muses “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Even more impressive than the beauty of creation is man and the role God has assigned him. He has dominion over the all the works of God!

When God created the heavens and the earth, He said it was “good.” (Genesis 1:25) But when he created man he said this was “very good.” (Genesis 1:31) Sometimes I forget this when I watch and listen to all the chaos going on in our country right now. I can easily lose God’s perspective that man is “very good” despite his fallen nature. Which is a good reminder for me to keep my mind focused on Jesus, the “author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Grace and peace,

Pastor Bill

Reflection from Ps. Bill

Dear Logos Family,

              “For you formed my inward parts;
                           You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
              I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
                           Wonderful are your works;
              My soul knows it very well.
                           My frame was not hidden from you,
              When I was being made in secret,
                           Intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
              Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
                           In your book were written, every one of them,
              The days that were formed for me,
                           When as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)

Have you ever stopped to think how special you are?

Maybe a parent or a grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin declared that you were “special” when you were born. Maybe they reminded you of that as you grew up?

These gracious words in the Book of Psalms speak to your intrinsic worth in your Father’s eyes. They speak of how carefully you were made in your mother’s womb – “knit together” in a “secret” place. God saw you even before you were a formed “substance.” He knew your personality even before you uttered a word!

The first person to know about you was your heavenly Father; he not only knew you as He assembled you in your mother’s womb, but He also “chose” you before the “foundation of the world.”   Ephesians 1:4 (ESV)

Your mother was the second person to know about you. She knew something was “up” early on. She missed a period. She felt nauseous.  In short order she knew her life would never be the same.   

Do you know what the appropriate response is for your special life? Praise to God! “I praise you, Lord, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” Man doesn’t validate this truth. God does! And you do – “my soul knows it very well.” When our souls are healthy and we know God, we know that we are special; we know it in the depth of our being.  

Have you thanked God lately for how special you are? Have you told someone else how special they are?

Grace and peace,

Pastor Bill