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April 4, 2019, 2:07 PM

April Letter from Pastor Jon


We all have heard the word synergy. The definition of the word is literally “to work with”. Positive synergy happens with the whole is more valuable than the sum of its parts. When the parts work well together they can accomplish more than the sum of the individual parts. People who work together in positive synergy bless others and are blessed in a way that makes them all better.

God is the Lord of positive synergy. God built intimacy of relationship and positive synergy into the garden of paradise. God gathered the dust and made man and filled him with His spirit. Adam was the synergy between dust and God. Adam and Eve were intimately and synergistically united; Eve was bone of Adams bone flesh of his flesh. Adam and Eve were naked before each other and with God in paradise. They were fruitful and they multiplied which gives evidence to their positive synergy. Think of how wonderful it was, Adam and Eve working with God, having children who would learn to walk in faithful synergy with their parents and with God. Together they would expand the paradise of God over all the earth. Positive synergy is the domain of God. If you look you will see again and again in the Scriptures that God works to create positive synergy between man and God.

In contrast, Satan works to destroy positive synergy and replace it with negative synergy. In negative synergy instead of working together the parts work against each other canceling out their individual effectiveness. Satan works to turn positive synergy of God into negative synergy. He stresses and tries to break the bond of positive synergy between God and humanity and between people.

 

Gen. 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

 

The serpent does not seem special and seems to ask a harmless questions….But it is not, the serpent attacks positive synergy by accusing God of an unreasonable law that says the they may not eat from any tree in the garden. Eve is under attack. At first, Eve responded out of positive synergy with God. She knew the truth but she is under pressure because she must defend the truth and defend God.

The serpent challenged God’s word and caused Eve to feel alone. She did not stand on God’s Word, she did not appeal to Adam for support. Adam was with her but he did not intervene so he left her alone. God said it is not good for man to be alone, and it is not good for woman to be alone.

 

Being or feeling alone is a bad problem, and even a crisis for anyone. Loneliness is a painful emotion that demands an antidote. The serpent presented the fruit of the forbidden tree as way to stop the pain. Eve finds demonstrated why it is not good to be alone. Instead of seeking the help of God or Adam, she acted alone and caused shame and death to enter paradise.

 

Gen. 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

 

A fig leaf is something used figuratively to convey the covering up of an act or an object that is embarrassing or distasteful. A fig leaf is anything we grab to protect ourselves from others. A fig leaf is a flimsy self acquired covering for shame. We usually think of Adam and Eve as using one type of fig leaf, but in reality they had a number of them. But all their fig leaves were silly and in effective.

First, the trees of the garden served fig leaves for Adam and Eve. Can you imagine anything so silly and ineffective as hiding from the all powerful creator in the bushes. When God found them, Adam and Eve tried to hide behind fig leaves of blaming another for their shame; Adam tried the fig leaves of blaming God and eve, Eve tried the fig leaf of blaming the serpent.

Anything we use to deflect blame and shame away from ourselves onto anyone else is a fig leaf. We all grasp for fig leaves to cover our shame when our relationship are broken and we feel the pain of shame loneliness. You and I live in loneliness reality every day, in our families, and every place we go. The intimacy and positive synergy we need to defeat loneliness are very hard to come by.

Is there any way for humanity to find positive synergy again return to paradise in which there was no loneliness? It is impossible by human effort, it is only possible with God. The only way to regain positive synergy is to regain trust. Building positive synergy requires that trust be rebuilt. The first place that positive synergy was lost was between God and mankind, so this is the first place that trust must be regained.

 

Jesus trusted the father completely. He was naked and unashamed before God. Jesus became man so that positive synergy between God and man could be resurrected. On the cross, Jesus was stripped naked of clothing reputation, beauty and worth of any kind, yet he trusted God through it all. He died in shame but was resurrected to glory because of his faith. With the resurrection positive synergy between God and mankind returned to the world.

Without faith in God everyone is lonely….worthless to ourselves others…we are terrified to be exposed, terrified to trust, even more we are totally self absorbed. Negative synergy reigns in our experience. We rely on fig leaves of many kinds to protect ourselves and assert our worth at the expense of others.

But God loves you so much he allowed himself to be stripped of all honor so that you could be saved. On the cross He was focused on you and the father and not himself. The positive synergy he had with the father makes it possible for you to be saved and return the paradise of a synergistic relationship with the father like Adam eve enjoyed before the fall.

It is by faith in He that gave himself for you that you forsake your fig leaves and enter into this positive synergistic relationship with God. By working with God in positive synergy, you no longer need to care for yourself because he cares for you and provides for you. Because he cares for you you can care for others as he commands. The Christian life is lived in positive synergy with God. The synergy grows as our faith grows. As we live in faith and faithfulness our synergy grows with others as it grows with God.

Positive Synergy is the desire of your heart for every situation and every context of your life. The great thing is that it is the desire of God’s heart too. Our calling is to work with him to achieve positive synergy. What better time is there to start seeking synergy with God than at Easter!

 

In His Love,

 

Jon




March 7, 2019, 10:15 AM

Letter from the Pastor for March 2019






February 5, 2019, 12:36 PM

February 2019 Newsletter from Pastor


Everyone wants more life and more out of the life than they have. We all have a deep desire to feel worthy and respected by ourselves and others. We all want more life tomorrow than we enjoy today.

 

The question is what path will you seek, what approach will you follow, and who will you trust to get there? There are really only two choices: walk with God and trust his promises or walk apart from God and trust the promises of human flesh.

 

As Christians we find ourselves in tension. Christians know that they are called to walk with the Lord and trust him as his disciples but we also know how easy it is to turn from God and trust ourselves. You might say that we are always at a crossroads

 

Jer. 6:16 This is what the LORD says:“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it,and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.

 

We know we should ask God to guide us on the ancient paths where good is found, where rest is found, but as fleshly sinful people we too often refuse to walk in this way choose our own path.

 

This situation has faced God’s people since the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve wanted more than all God had given them. The only thing they did not have was the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil which could only be had by human reaching out and taking it for themselves.

 

They disobeyed God and hid from him rather than seeking God for the more that they wanted and need from life. They were cast from the presence of God and were forced to make their living from the land by hard work.

 

We have this inheritance from the first sinners. We all know what it means to work hard for life and fruitfulness. We even work hard for the right to rest for a little while. We constantly long to have more life, freedom and fruitfulness but do we stand on his promises or ourselves in our effort to obtain them.

 

God promises that we will have eternal life, freedom from sins and the fruitfulness of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self control if we will follow him and stand on his promises.

 

We must learn to walk in the good and ancient way, resting and standing on the promises of God and turning way from the natural ways of trusting the promises of our the power of our flesh.

 

Heb. 3:7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice,

8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert,9 where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did.10 That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

 

Life is hard. Life is painful. We naturally trust ourselves to cope with all that life throws at us. We easily trust the power of our flesh to get the life that we want. But the reality is that when we trust ourselves we seldom if ever rest. There is always more work to do in the effort to find more life, more fruitfulness. We must work hard to keep what we have and get more. We yearn for and need rest but find it very hard to find. This is what life looks like if we try to do it without God.

 

But if we Seek god for the ancient ways…he promises we will find rest and find what is good. Wouldn’t life look different if instead of turning to ourselves when the stresses of life happened, when we are hurting and scared, instead of turning to ourselves we turned to God and encouraged others to do the same? Wouldn’t our marriages be happier? Wouldn’t our families be more loving? Wouldn’t church life be more joyful? The way to find such blessings is to ask God to show us the ancient way.




January 4, 2019, 4:08 PM

Letter from the Pastor for January 2019


A new year is a great and traditional time of new beginnings of examining where you have been, where you are, and where you want to go in the future. As Christians, we should always reflect on our relationship with God so that we can continually learn and become more fruitful disciples. Of course the fruit we are talking about is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness goodness and self control. The way the fruit of the spirit is formed is by living with God, learning to trust him more and more. He is the God with us, the God of love, He is the prince of peace, His governance will never end.

It may be helpful to think of God as your spiritual house that provides shelter from everything that exposes you to spiritual danger. Your physical house provides a warm, safe, dry place for you to live thrive and bear fruit. You only venture out for brief periods of time; even when out of the house you take advantage of the shelter of things from cars to clothing. If you insisted on standing outside, unprotected in a thunderstorm, blizzard or any adverse weather, you risk getting sick or injured, so you abide in the protection of the house. Staying in the house is important for survival and fruitfulness. Being sheltered does not make the storm go away. You hear and feel some of its effects; but not its full, damaging effects. Your shelter is a secure place of rest where you can grow and bear fruit in relationship with all those who live with you.

I encourage you to think of God and his providence as a house that protects you and allows you to rest and grow. If we were the able to see God this way there would be few times when we would venture out of his presence and protection. Whenever we left we would return very soon. The benefits of our home is the foundation of everything we do; and the benefits of relationship with God should have an even greater impact on every aspect of our lives.

  1. wonderful as the protection of our home is; there are times when stress in our lives and relationships makes you want to run away from home, or drive someone else out of the house. People under chronic stress stop caring for their homes. Eventually their homes become unlivable and they cannot stay there any more. Whether a person runs away, is driven out or otherwise lose their homes, they become homeless. They can sometimes find shelter; but they are otherwise homeless and learn to live that way.
  2. has the same effect on our relationship with God. When life becomes painful and bitter, people blame God and seek relief from our circumstances outside of His protection. When we are not at home with God our spiritual house gets run down and it becomes impossible to live there any longer. God created His spiritual house in Christ and He will never drive us out; but people leave God’s house and choose to live on streets apart from him. Spiritually homeless people, like people without physical home, seek shelter occasionally but are usually found taking care of themselves on godless streets. The hardest cases never seek shelter in God’s house.

We know this is true because stress causes us, those who look and feel spiritually protected by God, to turn away from God in the hard and painful moments of our lives. In those stressful moments we forsake God and forsake those we love. Stress causes tunnel vision, a person loses perspective on the big picture because of a narrow but painful aspect of life. We lose sight of the big picture and focus on a painful but small piece of it. It is like this:

 

The big picture of What God is Doing;

 

What we naturally focus onOval:

under stress;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homelessness of either kind is a very hard condition to correct. You can put a homeless person in a house; but that does not mean they will stay there. Stress will eventually drive them out. In order to stay their relationships with the house and others living has to be repaired which means stress is overcome by peace. The homeless person does is not truly home until they begin to value and care for the house and others living there.

The church is often referred to as the house of God. In psalm 23:6 David says:

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. David was not spiritually homeless when he said this, but there were times in his life that he chose to live on the street instead of with God. God even prevented him from building the temple of God and let his son build it instead. In order to live the house of God, David had to repent from sin, receive the love of God, and allow God to teach him how to live in faith in the house of God. David was a man after God’s own heart. God made a place for Him in His house. David had to learn to live there and work with God to keep the house in order.

How is the order of your spiritual house? Do you occasionally or chronically live as a homeless person, refusing to accept the shelter of God because of stress? If so it is time to come home in 2019. God is holding the door open in Christ. He is calling you home to rest in Him and receive the life he has for you! Stop focusing on the relatively small painful things in your life and focus on the bigger picture of what God is doing. God promises that you will bear good fruit as you live with Him in His house. May 2019 be a year of repair and rebuilding of our lives in the house of God!

 

 

Happy New Year!! God bless you!

 

Jon

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