Monday, February 23, 2015

Message from Nathan de Laet, Middle School Teacher

          Any time I am asked to speak on spiritual matters, I get a little nervous. Discussing the deep love and mystery that is our God always leaves me apprehensive about misrepresenting the indescribable. 

This weekend I went to church still looking for what message of encouragement I was to deliver. To be honest, I had an incredibly difficult time focusing during worship. I was singing, praying, and focusing on the words, but I still was unable to establish that connection with the Lord I desire and experience during worship. Then the band began to play “Bless the Lord”. As I sang with the church the lines “Bless the Lord, O my soul. Worship His holy name”, the focus was shifted from me to worshiping the Lord of creation. Encouragement swelled over me, and I wanted to share. 

I looked up the psalm from which the song is derived, and I found Psalm 103. In this piece of art written by David and inspired by God, we are reminded and encouraged of all the great attributes of God. It is a longer work, so I will not include all of it; however, I encourage you to read it on your own. Instead, in current internet form, I will share with you the greatest attributes of God included in Psalm 103.

1.     He forgives all your sins (103:3)
2.    He heals all past iniquities (103:3)
3.    He redeems and renews (103:4-5)
4.    He is righteous and just (103:6)
5.    He cares for the oppressed (103:6)
6.    He is compassionate and gracious (103:8)
7.    He is slow to anger, and rich in love (103:8)
8.    He does not harbor anger (103:9)
9.    He has mercy (103:10)
10. His love never ceases (103:11)
11.  He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west (103:12)

Any one of these attributes is enough reason to worship the Lord, but David does not stop there. The end of Psalm 103 is a reminder of the infinitesimal tininess of man in comparison to God. David describes us as grass. As your water bills can attest, grass is dead in a heartbeat. However, the finite nature of our earthly selves provides the example for the greatest attribute of God: all of the greatness of God is directed towards people who could be nothing more to God than grass. All of the attributes listed above would be meaningless if we were deserving of any of them. 

Here are your words of encouragement. God has done everything for us who deserve nothing. God has opened the floodgates of blessing upon you and me. He will continue to pour out His blessings in times of plenty and in times of need. The list of the greatest attributes of God is unchanging, even when we change. Oh how great is our God!

It is now our turn to open our mouths, hearts, and ears. It is now our turn to burst out in tears and song. It is now our turn to “Bless the Lord, O our souls. Worship His holy name.” Will you join me in worship this week?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Message from Lois Leader, High School Teacher

We have needed to do a lot of discussion amongst each other during recent events. I’ve been impressed with the caliber of the discussions we’ve had in our meetings and in our classrooms. A while back I found a list of tips for respectful discussion and saved it for future reference. As we head into PC’s future, and the discussions I’m sure we’ll be having from here, I thought I’d share this list with you.

1 Peter 3:13 - 17
Tips for Faithful and Respectful Discussion

  • Realize that the Holy Spirit is present and active in the conversation and remember that each participant is a bearer of the image of God.
  • Listen respectfully and carefully to others. You may not hear if you judge too quickly.
  • State what you think you heard someone say and ask for clarification before responding, in an effort to make sure you understand each other.
  • Speak for yourself, rather than as a member of a group.  Use “I” statements rather than “You” statements.
  • Look for and lift up points of agreement as well as disagreement.
  • Pray for God’s grace to listen attentively, to speak clearly and to remain open to the vision God holds for all of us.

Good News Version
13 Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for doing what is right, how happy you are! Do not be afraid of anyone, and do not worry. 15 But have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and honor him as Lord. Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, 16 but do it with gentleness and respect. Keep your conscience clear, so that when you are insulted, those who speak evil of your good conduct as followers of Christ will become ashamed of what they say. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if this should be God's will, than for doing evil.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Message from Laura Huizenga, HS/MS Choir Teacher

Genesis 1:26-27: Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

I was at my church’s women’s ministry night last week, and the speaker spoke about Genesis 1:26-27, and what it means for us to be made in the image of God. She spoke about the fact that we each bear God’s image in a unique way.  When we walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit, we are reflecting who God is in a unique way, because He made each of us precisely, uniquely, us.

The speaker’s focus was on the fact that we women tend to look in a mirror and be disappointed at what we see, and that we need to bring that response to Jesus and ask Him to help us see how God’s image is uniquely reflected in us. 

But one of the things she said in passing caught my attention, and convicted me.  She said, “When someone else is acting in a way that hurts me, I can respond with anger and vitriol, or I can seek to see God’s image in that person.”

I wrestled with that, I must confess. I’ve been offended.  I don’t WANT to see God’s image in the offender. I want to pray the smite Psalms. And yet…

And yet, each person, including the person who sins against me, has been made in God’s image. If I wrestle with God in prayer, will He allow me to see some ways in which that person bears His image? Will God help me to see that I need to pray earnestly for someone who is snared in the grip of darkness and deception which are obscuring God’s image? 

And more convicting yet, will God open my eyes to the darkness in my own soul which has been obscuring God’s image?

Lord Jesus, help me to see my own sin and renounce it.  Help me to pray for those who offend me, and to seek Your image in them.  Rescue us from darkness.  We need You!