You can check out more information about Operation Christmas Child here.
So Just Who is God?
People have many ideas as to who the God of the Bible is whether they have read the Bible or not. Creator, Savior, Lord, Judge, Healer, Ruler, a “force,” Law-Giver, like Santa but bigger, Father, uninvolved, involved, cosmic busybody, doddering old man – are all things I have heard people say when asked about God. So, who is God and does it matter?
According to the Bible God is. Period. He is eternal. He doesn’t need to justify His existence. He doesn’t need to be believed in. He doesn’t need to be understood When asked by Moses, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What shall I tell them?” God answered, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God is. He has always been. And He is complete within Himself.
God is complete, so why did He create everything? God created because He wanted to. He felt like it. Part of who He is is Creator. God is not just the Creator, He also desires to have a relationship with His creation. God wants a relationship with mankind. God wants a relationship with you and me. Why? Because He loves us!
Moses obeyed God and, God’s people, Israel, eventually were allowed to leave Egypt. God used the time of the Exodus to show Israel more of who He is. The people saw God as the pillar of cloud during the day and the pillar of fire at night, protecting and leading them. They saw a cloud descend on the mountain when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. God is holy and people cannot handle actually seeing true holiness, so God allowed one man, Moses, to come talk to Him. God’s glory was visible by way of a cloud and fire. God showed the people a visible manifestation of Himself, but with Moses He was a bit different. God spoke to Moses “face to face.” In Exodus 33:11 we read, “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend…” In Numbers 12:6-8 God says, “…When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD…” We know that Moses did not see God’s face because according to Exodus 33:20 no one who sees God will live. When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God granted him that special privilege and protected Moses as He passed by him. God hid Moses in a cleft of a rock and covered him with His hand in protection as He passed by, and God spoke to Moses clearly as a friend. Read Exodus 33:18 -23. Wow!
Abraham was also called a friend of God. We read in James 2:23, “…‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.” Abraham believed God. God wants us to believe Him and in Him.
Fast forward to John 11:11, Jesus had waited four days after being informed of Lazarus’ sickness, He told the disciples, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep;…” Jesus called Lazarus, friend.
We read in John 15:13-15 that Jesus says “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you…” Did you catch that? Jesus chose us to be His friends!
If someone asked you, “Who is God to you?” What would you say? Is He your friend?
Each month we send out a monthly newsletter talking–In Word & Deed– about the going ons in our church. On the front page of that newsletter is a column written by Pastor Don’s wife and office administrator, Kristi. Every month we will be posting her articles so everyone can read them.
Have you ever felt (been) overwhelmed by God? If we truly think about God and Who He is, we should be overwhelmed! I think there are different things about God that can overwhelm us and different ways in which we can be overwhelmed. We can be overwhelmed by Who God is, by how much bigger than us He is. We can be overwhelmed by the love of God, the mercy of God, the judgment of God, the knowledge of God, the holiness of God, the goodness of God, the creativity of God, the wisdom of God, the righteousness of God… – all kinds of things. We can be overwhelmed by peace and comfort, or we can be overwhelmed by grief, shame and fear. We can also be overwhelmed with gratitude or thankfulness or amazement.
I have been overwhelmed by God a few times in my life. The fact that God sees me and cares what happens to me, personally, can be overwhelming. There are a few times I remember specifically being “targeted” by God. One of those was over thirty years ago. I was collecting signatures at Northgate Mall to help get an initiative on the next ballot. It was an initiative dealing with abortion. As I was talking with a man about the initiative, I lied about my position. (I told myself it was just stretching the truth a bit, but, truly, I lied.) The wonderful lady collecting signatures with me didn’t let me get away with it. She asked me a few questions helping me see my lying ways and gave me a chance to come clean. I did not know her at all and she didn’t know me, but she knew God and listened to and obeyed Him. How embarrassing! How humiliating! What an absolute blessing! God used her to give me a chance to fess up, apologize to the man and get right with Him within a half hour of that lie! I felt the overwhelming heaviness of shame and embarrassment of blatantly offending God and a fellow Christian and I felt the overwhelming release and lightness of forgiveness once I confessed my sin. After all these years I have not forgotten that lesson.
About ten years ago, I was so busy with work and life that I was “losing it.” I was having a hard time emotionally as I tried to get everything done in the time I had. I felt crushed with the load of being a mom, a wife, a Pastor’s wife, a teacher, a women’s group leader, a friend, a room – parent, a children’s leader at BSF and a Cubbie leader here at church. My parents were having health issues and I needed to be available to go help out at their home. I didn’t see how I could keep going on, but I had to… I was talking about my frustration with JJ. She said, “You need to take a ‘mental health’ day. Stay home, by yourself. Everything that truly needs to be done will be there when you come back, but you will be different.’” I did. I spent the day sitting on my deck reading, praying and listening to some music. One of the songs was by a group I had listened to in High School. Interestingly enough, the song was called, Slow Down. It talks about being still and knowing God is God (Psalm 46:10). As I listened to that song, I felt overwhelmed with the love and comfort of God. It was as if a huge wave broke over me and swallowed me up. As tears streamed down my face, I felt the overwhelming presence of God as He enveloped me in His arms and surrounded me with His absolute peace. That was what I needed. I needed to know I am God’s child and He has me. Like a little lamb, my Shepherd is taking care of me and He can handle it. Relax and let Him.
This last week, I got to go with a friend and experience a live performance of Handel’s Messiah. She and I had sung much of it together, but I have only heard it performed a couple of times. Wow! Again, I was overwhelmed with the beauty and majesty of our God. The words and music took us from the beauty of creation to the ghastliness of sin and our role in the hideous death of Christ, through the wonder of our redemption and Jesus’ victory over sin and death to the unspeakable joy of an eternity with the Godhead in heaven. Amazing! Overwhelming! If “mere mortals” can conceive of and perform such gorgeous music, imagine what heaven will be like! I can hardly wait!
I hope this next year will bring more overwhelming moments with God for all of us. Please share some of yours with me, won’t you?
We will be doing a 6 week series called, “I Am N.” The purpose of this study is to help us develop a biblically focused view of persecution and the global family of Christ. There will be a short video for each week with a discussion, Bible perspective and prayer to follow. Our intent is to become more aware and concerned for our fellow Christians around the world, especially those who are in the midst of persecution and desperately need our prayers and support. The study will take place on Wednesday nights from 6pm-8pm starting August 31st in the Montgomery Room. Please bring yourself and a friend, and we cannot wait to see you!
Read more information about I Am N here.
Each month we send out a monthly newsletter talking–In Word & Deed– about the going ons in our church. On the front page of that newsletter is a column written by Pastor Don’s wife and office administrator, Kristi. Every month we will be posting her articles so everyone can read them. The following was written for the February 2015 newsletter which can be downloaded at the end of the article.
This Could Be The Year!
Jesus is coming back. W e don’ t know exactly when, but we do know He is coming. I am excited! I don’t know when, but I do know we are a year closer to His coming than we were last year! I want to see God face to face. In order to do that I need to be made able to see God face to face.
When Moses asks to see God’s face, God replies in Exodus 33:20, “You may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” The Apostle John had a hard time explaining what his friend, Jesus, looked like when he saw Him in His glory in Revelation 1:14 and 16b. “His head and his hair were white like wool as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire,,,His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” John, who had leaned against Jesus at the Last Supper and been called the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” looked into Jesus’ face (as revealed in his vision in the Book of Revelation) and fell down at his feet as dead! (Revelation 1:17) John couldn’t handle seeing Jesus’ face as it really is!
Jesus took hold of John with His right hand (a symbol of authority and strength) and said, ”Do not be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one who dies. Look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.” (Revelation 1:17-18) Jesus gave John the strength to look into His face and to stand in His holy presence. One day, Jesus will do that for us as well!
Now, we are of this world. Our bodies are made for this physical earth. One day, we will receive new bodies that are made for heaven and eternity. Then, we will be able to look God in the face! Oh my goodness, can you imagine that? Really?!
God gives us little previews along the way so we have hope. Paul says in I Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” As we will be able to see the Lord directly and clearly in heaven, we will also be able to know as we are known. We will know the Lord to the fullest extent possible for a finite being, similar to the way the Lord knows us! Incredible! We will spend an eternity getting to know our Heavenly Father and Jesus. We will be like Jesus because we will see Him as He is! (I John 3:2)
For now, we see dimly as in a mirror. For now, we live in a world messed up by sin. Creation itself is groaning for release. For now, we live amongst a fallen people. We experience pain, hurt, disillusionment, misunderstandings, sickness and death. But that is not the end. God promises hope. There is a change in store for those of us who take refuge in Him. There is hope in a future with Him. Take a look at Romans 5:1-2, 5 NIV “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God…And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”
If you have been justified by faith and have peace with God because you accepted Jesus’ payment for your debt of sin, what a cool future you have to look forward to!
If you would like the complete PDF of this month’s In Word and Deed, you may download it here: February 2015 In Word & Deed.
Each month we send out a monthly newsletter talking–In Word & Deed– about the going ons in our church. On the front page of that newsletter is a column written by Pastor Don’s wife and office administrator, Kristi. Every month we will be posting her articles so everyone can read them. The following was written for the August 2016 newsletter which can be downloaded at the end of the article.
“Comfy? Me Neither!”
I’ve been feeling more and more unsettled with things that are happening in our country today. I wonder how has our society changed so quickly and so dramatically? It hurts to see the pain and the “lostness” out there. It hurts to be so misunderstood and have my motives and beliefs ridiculed, chewed up and spit out. It hurts to have my God, the One who made us all, loves us all and died for us all, be ignored and denigrated. (Oh how that must hurt God.) I feel a bit on edge. Something is going to give and it looks like it may be pretty violent. Every day I’m bombarded with stuff I don’t want even want to know about. I’m not comfortable (and my comfort is something I’m pretty cognizant about.) Then, that “still small voice” speaks: “News flash, Kristi, this is NOT your home. People are sinners. You people do not live up to My standards. But you, My beloved daughter, you have accepted the work Jesus finished. You have asked Him to pay the debt you owed and now Jesus Christ is your Savior and the Lord of your life. You are working on living the sanctified life I have made available to you. You SHOULD feel uncomfortable. You’re not home yet.” WHA???? Oh yeah. Thank you, God for pointing that out.
Turns out, God knows! God has spoken about this topic already in His Word. I just needed reminding (again!). I have been holding on too tightly to this physical world that I love and all the things in it, rather than setting my mind on things above. I am living on the earth, but, really, I am not a citizen of this earth. I am a citizen of heaven. Part of my purpose for being on this earth is to get me ready for my eternal home. This earth will not always be here. My Heavenly Father is going to remake the whole thing. This earth, wonder-filled as it is, is under a curse. It is damaged. When Adam and Eve broke God’s Law, everything changed, including Creation.
It’s okay with God when I don’t feel comfortable here on earth. I need to be engaged while I am here. I need to take care of this earth, but I need to realize that my roots are in heaven. I need to realize that only a couple things on earth are forever: the souls of people and God’s word. Therefore, I need to hold the things of this earth loosely. Rather than worrying how to respond to people, I need to be living for God. There is a difference between what God says is good and true and right and what the world says is good and true and right. Part of why I am unsettled is that the world’s idea of truth is constantly changing. God doesn’t change. Truth is truth. It cannot be equivocated; it cannot be changed just because someone “feels” like it should be different. God created this whole thing, He is perfectly within His rights to decide how things should work. Who are we to tell God what He should do? Wow! What arrogance! And yet, mankind has always been trying to take God’s place.
I have tried to memorize Philippians 4:8-9 for years.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Did you catch that? God is letting us know the kinds of things that are worthy of our consideration. Is that what you think about? No? Well God also tells us in II Corinthians that we can“…take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” Don’t just sit there and let thoughts take over your mind, be the boss! Take control of your thoughts! You decide what thoughts you allow into your mind to be considered. Think and digest the kinds of thoughts God says are worthy and then the God of peace will be with you. How many people do you know today who have real peace? Would you like to be one? Take your thoughts captive and ponder Godly thoughts.
If you would like the complete PDF of this month’s In Word and Deed, you may download it here: August 2016 In Word & Deed.
Care Net is an organization to help women, especially with unplanned pregnancies. Between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, change is collected in baby bottles and then donated to them so they are able to continue all the help they provide. We are a drop off point for baby bottles, so come by between office hours, (or see you on Sunday morning) and bring your baby bottle!
From their website:
What: Please join our baby bottle campaign as an outreach opportunity for your church to help provide life-affirming pregnancy support services to families in need. The collection of change, bills and checks as a special offering supports your local Care Net pregnancy center ministry.
Some services Care Net provides:
Perinatal Hospice Support (Lavender Tree)
Pregnancy Loss & Abortion Recovery (Healing Tide)
Preventative (Smart Programs)
You can learn more about the campaign here.
Each month we send out a monthly newsletter talking–In Word & Deed– about the going ons in our church. On the front page of that newsletter is a column written by Pastor Don’s wife and office administrator, Kristi. Every month we will be posting her articles so everyone can read them. The following was written on January 27, 2016.
I received a letter this week. An interesting letter. A unique letter. A beautiful letter. This letter is from a friend I have known for over 30 years. I don’t remember when I met her, but I do remember going to her home with my new baby, Erin, in her basket, in order to work on counted cross stitch projects together and talk. JJ was there and is the one who introduced us.
Some of the things you would notice about my friend are her love for Jesus and her love for laughter. Jesus is her world. She had some very hard things happen to her in her life, but she didn’t let those things get her down. She kept her focus on Jesus and allowed Him to comfort and heal her. She went through the hard things, kept loving Jesus, and moved on. She is more concerned about other people than herself. She pours herself out for family and friends…even new friends she doesn’t know very well. She is generous, kind and loving. She knows how to laugh at herself…a lot! I can go over to her little apartment feeling scared, or tired, or just bummed and within a few minutes we will be roaring with laughter over one of her latest (or oldest) escapades. What a gift that is…laughter.
My friend is a prayer warrior, even in her younger years. She knows God. She knows He answers prayer. And she trusts Him implicitly. She knows the most important thing she can do in any situation is to pray. I need people praying for me. I do not pray as often as I should. God reminds me over and over that prayer should be the first thing I need to do in any situation, and, yet, time after time I wait until I don’t know what else to do. I’m getting better, but I still need to be reminded way too often. My friend enjoys reminding me.
My friend accepts people. She loves everyone she meets and sincerely cares about them. She wants everyone to know Jesus and be in God’s Forever Family. She worked at SPU for a while and loved her co-workers and the students. She goes out of her way to help anyone in any way she can and to show them as well as tell them about her Lord. She is an encourager. We need more encouragers in this world today.
Now that you know a little about my friend, I would like to share the letter I received:
Dear Family and Highly Valued Friends,
Thank you for all your loving ways, fellowship, and genuine friendship over the years. You have encouraged, taught and shared in many of my life experiences. We have laughed gleefully and so much more. You are truly a cherished person in my life.
This letter affords me an opportunity to do what many never get a chance to do.
I am writing to say good-bye as I prepare for my soon departure from this world into the Kingdom of our all-gracious and merciful God. Soon I will meet our Savior face-to-face. (A family member will note my passing on fb.)
I have suffered a long time with end-stage renal failure. That will soon be over as I discontinue dialysis treatments and wait a few days until the Lord takes me to my true Home with Him.
“And I shall dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”
Wow! What an honor to receive that letter. She has shown me how to live and now, she is showing me how to die. What a treasure! I want to be like her. Not scared, not angry, not self-pitying, but accepting what my Lord is doing in my life, knowing He has numbered my days and will take me Home at the proper time and place He has chosen.
I was driving down Aurora Avenue this morning. I saw a new billboard that says something about “Look into eternity without fear…” That’s exactly what my friend is doing. Because of Jesus, she is able to look into eternity calmly and at peace. She is confident. She is patiently waiting for Jesus to lead her there. She is looking into eternity with anticipation.
(Since I don’t have a FaceBook account, my children are watching for the note.)
If you would like the complete PDF of this month’s In Word and Deed, you may download it here: In Word and Deed – January 2016.
Once again, we are happy to be a drop off location for Operation Christmas Child. If you have filled a shoebox, you may drop it off at our church this week from 10am – 5pm. If you have any questions you may call the office at 206.784.1554.
You can check out more information about Operation Christmas Child here.
Back in April Ballard Baptist Church was featured in the Pacific Northwest Magazine in an article written by Paul Dorpat about the history of the church. If you would like to read it you can check out the online article here. The article talks about the history of the congregation and the historic building dating all the way back to 1893. We want to thank Mr. Dorpat for all his help and that he did an amazing job!
Foundations series intro message delivered by pastor.