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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pastor's Column - June 2009

As we enter into the month of June, I can't help but reflect on Father's Day a little differently this year! I must say that, thought this is my second Father's Day, I am amazed at how much differently I view this day now that Sophie is just over a year old. It is freaking me out! Being a father is quite an intimidating calling. According to the Bible, fathers have a tremendous amount of responsibility. Most important of which is what St. Paul teaches fathers in Ephesians 6:4, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them in the training and instruction of the Lord." Fathers have been given the high calling of teaching their children about Jesus and about living out their faith!

As I look down the road at what this is going to entail for the next 18+ years, I become pretty intimidated. I imagine there are many of you fathers reading this right now that read that verse and think, "Easier said than done, St. Paul!" With all of the temptations and competing influences in this world, we may fear that our children won't listen to us above all the other distractions. We may worry that we won't give the best advice, we won't pay enough attention, our advice won't always be heeded. And, as we examine this call to fatherhood, I can only imagine the number of times we have messed up or felt like we have fallen short. Fatherhood is a high calling and that is why it is full of hardship and struggle and, yes, sin.

It is important, then, that on this Father's Day we reflect not only on our own roles as fathers, but on God our Father. In God we have a father who does not exasperate His children, but instead, loves them and strengthens them, even through their own exasperation! As we struggle and wrestle with our callings as fathers, we have in God a Father we can turn to for strength and support where we are weak. We have a Father who knows our sins and forgives them by sending His Son on a mission of sacrifice and salvation. Because of the shed blood of Jesus, all of our sins are forgiven, all of our hardships are endured, and all of our mistakes are redeemed. Now, in Christ, we draw our strength from the Holy Spirit who gives us the strength and the drive to carry out our calling and be faithful witnesses of Christ to our families. May God our Father bless all fathers on this day!

Pastor Bob

Speaking of Jesus: June 2009

People are very confused about many things in this world. God is not the least of these things! Many of our friends are unclear about who God is, where He is, what He does, and if He cares. There is a great amount of fear that comes from the confusion when God is taken seriously, because this confusion leads to the truth that we cannot control God and we cannot figure Him out. For our friends who don't know Jesus, this confusion likely leads people to be unnecessarily terrified of God or just to write God off as something unimportant and not worth the worry. Some in their confusion even redefine God by pouring their own ideas into what they think God should be. For us who have been called to spread Good News about God it is important for us to know how to get through the confusion.

This begins when we are able to recognize things about who Jesus is. When we talk about the Gospel we find that it is like a jewel. There is one gospel that can be looked at from many ways and each of those ways is beautiful. And these various ways of looking at and thinking about the Gospel help us answer the various questions and struggles that people have about God and faith. They help us bring clarity to whatever is confusing people about the faith.

One of the ways at looking at Jesus' life (the Gospel) is by looking at Jesus as being the One who reveals God to us. Jesus can be seen as a revealer. When we speak about Jesus to our friends they will come with many questions about God. And, as Christians, we know that Jesus is the answer to all of those questions. For example, they may wonder, if God is so loving, why did He allow for sin and evil in the world? Though we cannot answer that definitively (because we don't know), we do know that God has done something about it in sending His Son to die and rise to start a new heavens and a new earth. This work of Jesus reveals that God is both concerned about the evil down here, He cares enough to endure it for us and to bring us through it with Himself, and that, in raising Jesus from the dead, He is the one who has the power to redeem this world. Jesus' words and life REVEAL God to us.

Or, someone may say, "God doesn't love me, look at how awful my life is!" And again, we respond by going to Christ. In Christ, God entered into our suffering because He knows the pain we endure. He endured the worst pain so that you would not have to face an eternity of that pain. And now, He gives you His Holy Spirit to carry you through the pain and the hurt. And, in saying this, Jesus reveals that God is both incredibly concerned for the life of this person and loves them passionately.

Jesus reveals God to us as He demonstrates and carries out God's love for us by dying and rising. In our conversations with those who are confused about God, let us always return to Christ who is God in human flesh revealing His love and mercy.

Pastor Bob

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What's Happening in Hispanic Ministry?

Centro Cristiano Oxnard held a concert on Mother's Day with a dinner and flowers for all of the mothers. The youth visited the mothers in their homes that morning with a special song for each of them. We praise the Lord for the blessings of our mothers and for their loving husbands and children who support them in Oxnard!

English classes and Bible Study, held every Saturday, have begun in Moorpark. The next Park Outreach will take place on Saturday, June 6th.

Centro Cristiano Hispano Bible Institute begins a new Preaching Course this month in Santa Paula. Fifteen students are enrolled. They will learn how to spread the Gospel in a variety of ministry settings, through preaching and teaching in a Spirit led and well organized fashion.

How Can You Be A Part of the Action?

"All great journeys in Jesus' Great Commission begin with small steps of faith. Please pray for our steps in Oxnard, Moorpark, and Santa Paula. Join us as we walk forward carrying the Good News of Jesus to our Spanish speaking neighbors." Pastor Dennis Bradshaw

For more information about these ministries or to send financial support, please contact Pastor Dennis Bradshaw at (805) 660-3377 or Centro Cristiano Hispano, P.O. Box 952 Santa Paula, CA 93060.

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Faith Lutheran Church • 123 Park Lane • Moorpark, CA 93021 • (805) 532 1049 • Send Email