Church Family Newsletter | January 15, 2022
This week, our youngest, Evan, celebrated his 13th birthday. I cannot believe it! One always hears the saying, "time flies by (as you get older)" - and it certainly does! When I look back at his pictures, it doesn't matter how much height he has gained or his featured have matured, he will always be my "baby boy." And at the same time, as he is growing in independence, I suppose he will always see me as his "mommy."
Perspective is interesting, isn't it? It is a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.
Included in this week's issue, there is a great poem and, of course, Jim's devotional. I do hope that this will bless you as you see yourself as Christ sees you.
Major AnnMarguerite Jones
You may have come across people with the trait of perfectionism.
These are those whose cars must be “detailed” so that every crease and crevice must be completely devoid of detritus; those whose table centerpieces have to be “just so” before serving a meal can be contemplated; those who are always picking that speck of lint from your clothes!
For some people, this can become an obsession at worst and an annoyance at best to the rest of us for whom “good enough” is indeed good enough.
And yet, for Jesus followers, there is a disturbing command tucked into Jesus’ teaching at the end of what has come to be known as “The Sermon on the Mount”.
As an aside, most scholars believe that these sayings of Jesus in chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel, beginning with the beatitudes were not all delivered by Jesus in one single session, but were collected from the memory of the disciples who traveled with him over several days and then assembled into a compact list. No matter, Jesus taught them and that is what is relevant to us.
Here is the little bombshell: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
[Matthew 5:48 NIV]
Maybe a different translation lets us off the hook? ‘Fraid not - in every English translation I could find, the Lord tells his followers to be “perfect”. So linguistic gymnastics pretzelizing the original Greek provides no means of escape. Jesus said what He meant, and meant what He said!
I have to accept that Jesus wants me to be “perfect” in the same way the Father is “perfect”.
So, if you thought that being a Jesus follower would allow you to skate by with just the minimum amount of goodness, think again! Jesus wants us to be completely transformed so that who we used to be is totally done away with and a new radical creation takes its place. Check this out,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” [2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV]
As C.S. Lewis has pointed out, anyone who thinks it’s possible to make himself good obviously has not tried and discovered how bad he really is! How can I be perfect when the Law of the Lord as found in the Old Testament serves to show me how impossible that is? Or as Paul points out,
“… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” [Romans 3:23 NIV].
So is Jesus asking for impossible perfectionism? Thankfully, no!
The writer to the Hebrews unravels the conundrum like this,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” [Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV emphasis mine]
You see, the Jesus who commands us to be perfect makes us perfect!
I am reminded of a process used on an heirloom piano in my family. Although it played perfectly well, the cabinetry had dulled over the years and detracted from its purpose as a piece of furniture. So, at considerable expense, we employed an artist called a “French polisher”. He, over the period of some months, on a daily basis, oiled and polished the surface until it absolutely gleamed! It took quite a while and a great deal of patient hard work, but in the end, the results were spectacular! The piano now fulfilled its total purpose as a musical instrument and furniture.
So it is with our perfection. Every day the Holy Spirit of Jesus removes the blemishes of sin, rubs us smooth, and polishes away our imperfections. Our family piano did not have to do anything except allow itself to be polished, the polisher did all the work. And in the same way, by patiently allowing the Spirit to work on and in us, we will become perfect. Just as Jesus commanded!
That’s absolutely perfect! Hallelujah!
Blessings on you and yours,
So don't try to tell me
There's so much potential inside me
Because at the end of the day
I'll never find a job
I need more experience
I've been out of work too long
And don't try to convince me that
There is real value inside of me
Because deep down I know
I am useless and unemployable
And nothing you say will make me believe
I will make it in this world.
(Now read bottom-up - life is about how you see things. The Lord always sees your heart, and reads from the bottom-up.)
"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God, without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…" Philippians 2: 14–16a.
In June of 1880, one of the most remarkable women in history was born healthy into a loving and devoted family. Tragedy struck eighteen months later when scarlet fever left the little girl blind and deaf. Helen Keller spent the next seven years in darkness, frustration, and loneliness. Helen’s world was dark, silent, and lonely until a remarkable woman entered her life. Anne Sullivan answered the call to teach Helen how to communicate and reenter the world of her family and friends. Anne stayed by Helen’s side and Helen was able to learn to read, write and speak. She eventually completed her college education, wrote numerous articles and books, spoke internationally, and met many presidents.
If anyone had the right to complain about her circumstances, it was Helen Keller. Her story provides us with an opportunity to address the subject of complaining. For the average person, complaining comes as easily as breathing. Every day, people complain about traffic, weather, schedules, children, churches, appearance, aches, and pains… You name it, we complain about it. In fact, for some, complaining is their primary means of communication.
Unfortunately, when it comes to complaining, Christians don’t seem to be any different than the rest of the world. Somewhere along the line, even Christians have bought into the idea that it is our “right” to be happy, fulfilled, satisfied, healthy, and catered to every moment of every day. But, I don’t remember finding that anywhere in the Bible! By contrast to our culture today, it’s almost unbelievable that Helen Keller was quoted as saying, “So much has been given me, I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.”
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, urges believers to “do everything without complaining or arguing” not only for the sake of peace but “so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God”. He goes on to describe the ones who do not complain as ones who “shine like stars in the universe.”
A life marked by complaining mars our character. A life marked by thankfulness builds it. The choice between the two is most important. Which one will you choose?
1. How would the people closest to you describe you, as a complainer or as a thankful person?
2. Evaluate one area of your life that you can work on today in order to complain less and to be more thankful.
Psalm 95:1-7; Psalm 107:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Leslie Snyder, HomeWord Daily Devotional for 01/06/2022
This Week's Schedule
MONDAY: Office Closed - Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- 6:00 PM - Men's & Women's Bible Studies (women's online)
- 7:00 PM - Songsters Practice
- 8:00 PM - Senior Band Practice
- 10:00 AM - CAMEO: Reduce, Reuse & Recycle - Zoom Only
- 12:00 PM - Wednesday's Word Bible Studies (men and women separate groups)
- 9:30 AM - Del Oro Brass & Chorus Practice - Suisun Kroc Center
- 10:00 AM - Jr. Soldier Rally - Sacramento Citadel (Leaving the corps at 8:00 AM)
Multicultural Awareness Week
When: Every Sunday at 10:00 AM
LAUNCHING SUNDAY, JANUARY 16TH
Where: Prayer Room
We are going to relaunch the Sunday morning Prayer Meeting now that we have Pamela Johnson taking the lead. Prayer is such a crucial part of our faith and there is definitely power in prayer. This will be an opportunity to pray over the fellowship's concerns, a time of intercessory prayer, and a designated time to ask the Lord to fill our worship time with His presence. Please join her for this time.
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." Ephesians 6:18, NIV
"I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer." Psalm 17:6, NIV
Bible Reading Plan & Devotional
Women's Bible Study
Tuesday nights at 6:00 PM and Wednesday afternoons at 12:00 PM
Printed copies of the material will be distributed so that you don't have to worry about printing off the study and readings each week. We will be exploring the splendor of creation and the significance of God's work in the lives of flawed yet faithful men and women. And while it tells of fascinating people experiencing transformational events, Genesis continually points us back to their God and ours, the Creator.
Territorial Holiness Retreat
Theme: Holy Living - "Set Apart" (John 3:15)
Dates: February 4-6, 2022
Location: VIRTUAL RETREAT (It is now being held virtually due to the rise in COVID-19 cases and the very contagious spread of the new variant.)
A good time of worship and study of the Word together. Commissioner Mark Tillsley will be leading the Bible studies.
Proof of vaccination or COVID-19 test required.
Registration deadline is January 22, 2022. No registration fee is required.
Register here: https://events.usawest.org/
Click here to share your requests. Requests will be prayed for in our Prayer Room and distributed through our Prayer Chain. Requests can be made anonymously.