Monday, July 29, 2013

Something You Can't Fake

"Now if you're feelin' kinda low 'bout the dues you've been paying  Future's coming much too slow
And you wanna run but somehow you just keep on stayin'.  Can't decide on which way to go
I understand about indecision but I don't care if I get behind
People livin' in competition.  All I want is to have my peace of mind.

Now you're climbin' to the top of the company ladder, hope it doesn't take too long
Can't you see there'll come a day when it won't matter . Come a day when you'll be gone
I understand about indecision but I don't care if I get behind
People livin' in competition.  All I want is to have my peace of mind.

Now everybody's got advice they just keep on givin' .  Doesn't mean too much to me
Lot's of people out to make-believe they're livin' .  Can't decide who they should be.
I understand about indecision but I don't care if I get behind
People livin' in competition.  All I want is to have my peace of mind."


These old school words were written by Donal Scholz and performed by the group Boston on their first album released in August of 1976.  The album climbed to #3 on the charts and is the second highest selling debut album all time.  Over 20 million copies of this album have been sold.  Boston's music was something new and took my generation by storm. However, this one song has always been my favorite.  It reminds me of what most people are looking for in their lives.

There are some things in life that just can't be faked:  Peace of mind is one of those.  Peace of mind comes, not from our circumstances, but from our faith.  If peace of mind is based on circumstances, then it comes and goes.  It ebbs and flows like the tides of the ocean.  Peace of mind is also fleeting if the object of our faith is not trustworthy.  If the object of our faith is ourselves, then peace of mind only comes when we are "successful".  If a god shaped in our own image is the object of our faith, then we will struggle to face the truth of life.  I have seen many people who claim to be followers of Christ, but are following a man-shaped God in their lives.  They have sin in their lives and rather than repent, they seek to justify their sin so they can continue to do that which they want to do.  They work so hard to convince others that what they are doing is fine and normal, but they are really only trying to convince themselves.  In the words of Hamlet, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."  I know how that looks because I do the same thing.  So we profess to be at peace and that our choice is "all good", but deep inside we are burdened.  We struggle to come to grips with the honest admission that God's way really is best and right.  We can fake peace of mind for a little while, but eventually it boils out in other places.  We rant about those bad drivers, or those bigots or those inconsiderate co-workers, when we are really just releasing the pressure from our own sin and pain.

Jesus told us in John 14:25-27, " All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."


Notice, peace of mind is really a gift from Jesus through the Holy Spirit. As we honestly follow Jesus, He will give us peace.  The world can't give it to us.  We can't try to reshape what God said to fit our sinful lifestyle and think we will have peace.  We have to come clean, admit to God He is right and then enjoy the cleansing He brings.  The peace of mind He gives far surpasses any peace we can find in a bottle, friend, lover, joint or TV program.  The peace He gives is lasting.  He loves out honesty and that honesty can change our lives, once we stop trying to justify our sin.  Taking that step to admit we are wrong is the hardest step of all.  It means we will have to make some changes.  It means we will need to have the Body of Christ draw along side us as we attempt to go in God's direction.  It means we will have admit to others who are a part of that choice that we have been wrong and won't go there again.  It is painful, but that pain will bring healing.

Why am I writing about peace of mind in today's Sip?  Well, in the past nine days, Hillcrest has been in contact with over 220 people who are not churched.  We have contacted even more as we stopped by their homes to invite them to the Hillcrest Community Fair and Vacation Bible School.  We have had the opportunity to intersect with people who are searching for peace of mind.  The peace that can only be received as a gift from Jesus.  This peace is what our world is hungry for and searching to find.  If we, as followers of Christ, have this peace, those apart from Christ will be drawn to Him.  We can't fake peace of mind.  Either we have it or we don't.  If you don't have peace of mind which comes from Christ, would you spend time in honest confession and repentance.  I find that most of the time, I already know what is keeping me from Christ.  I just need to own up to it and take responsibility.  If you have that peace, look for opportunities to share the source of your peace.  

Things haven't changed much since 1976.  Just like Boston sang, all people want is to have their peace of mind.  Share the peace of Christ with a restless and hurting world!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Great Opportunity

On Friday, July 19th, Hillcrest Baptist Church will host the Hillcrest Community Fair starting at 6:00 in the evening.  Here are some statistics about the Fair:
-This is the 8th time we have hosted the Fair
-Around 1,400 flyers were distributed, inviting people to the Fair
-150 letters were sent to prospects, inviting them to the Fair
-1 road sign that has been up since June 28th, inviting people driving by the church to the Fair
-Over 45 merchants have donated items to the Fair
-The first 75 families are guaranteed a prize and goodie bag
-McDonald's has donated over 280 coupons for those goodie bags
-Chick Fil A donated over 300 coupons for free food for those goodie bags
-JT Bishop's Bargain Barn donated coupons for each of those goodie bags
-Each goodie bag will contain a New Testament, tract, VBS invitation and church information
-It will take over 50 volunteers to make the Fair a success
-Hilltop Community Church is allowing us to use 1 jumper and 1 giant obstacle course
-Wayne Sanford will cook over 300 pieces of chicken
-We ordered 45 new Hillcrest T-shirts for the Hillcrest family
-It took 1 and 1/2 hours to distribute flyers to 900 homes on the hill
-Last year, we had over 80 families attend the Fair
-Those 80 families brought a total of 200 guests to the Fair
-20 of the children attending Vacation Bible School the following week came to the Fair

The Fair is the best opportunity we have all year to connect with our community.  Our goal is to introduce our community to Jesus and to Hillcrest Baptist Church.  It all begins with those who help park the cars and moves to those at the registration table.  Once they are at the Fair, how we treat our guests will tell them more about Jesus than our words will.  We need to treat the guests just like we would treat guests in our home.  From the way we speak to them, welcome them, smile at them to how we treat each other and our area of service, we can make a positive impact for Christ.  God is giving us this opportunity to open the foors of the church up to our community.  

How can we prepare for this?  Invite!!  People will only come if they are invited, so make sure you invite them.  Get prayed up!  There will be spiritual battles in each of our homes, jobs and relationships.  Satan will try to distract us in a variety of ways during this next week.  Pray for God to move in our midst and draw people to the Fair.  Pray that God will speak to our guests during our halftime presentation when we share the Gospel.  Pray that we will have a large amount of children sign up for VBS.   Pray that Diego Munoz will be able to connect with Spanish-speaking people at the registration table.  Pray that everyone will be safe.  Pray that the goodie bags will come into homes and people will be drawn to read the NewTestaments, tracts and information about the church.  Pray for energy and enthusiasm.  You can also prepare by showing up to work.  There is always a need for workers, so come at 5:15 and get involved.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Make A Move

Several weeks ago we had a new senior begin to attend our services.  The story of Janet is quite remarkable.  Janet has been living in Florida but decided to move to California, even though she would leave all of her close friends and her church.  The reason:  Her sister (who lives in this area) is the executor of her estate/power of attorney.  With her advancing age and some health concerns, she didn't want her sister to try to do the caring for her from across the country.  So she pulled up stakes, found found senior housing here and move across the country even though the only person she knows in this area is her sister.  When she arrived, she went on-line to google a Southern Baptist Church in the area, which is how she ended up at Hillcrest on that Sunday.  The love she felt in the Women of Faith Sunday School class brought her back each Sunday and she is beginning to make a home her.  Now for the most remarkable aspect of her journey:  She is 83 years old.  When I found out her age and the life-changing decision she made, a was impressed by her courage and honored that God would bring this wonderful woman into our lives.  Moving across the country is difficult enough, but is compounded by moving to a strange place with no friends.  However, adding in her age to this equation is remarkable because I plan to be set in my ways when I reach that age.  Not only that, but think about the fact that she has embraced technology enough to learn to google, find directions and make purchases.  I don't know if I want to try many new technologies when I am in my 80's.  Yesterday, our church distributed flyers to around 900 homes on the hill on which our church sits.  We had to do some serious walking to get to many of the homes.  Before church, Janet pulled me aside to tell me that she didn't think she was going to be able to go with us to distribute flyers.  I was amazed that she would even consider such a task, but this woman is quite remarkable.  She has embraced this change in her life in such a wonderful and healthy way.  She has made a move with such a positive attitude. 

In the Bible, we see people who come to crossroads in their lives and how they handle those crossroads.  Some don't do very well, like the rich, young ruler or Demas or Festus when he hears Paul's testimony.  Then there are others who embrace that crossroad and make a move.  Examples of this could be Matthew when he follows Jesus, Zaccheus when he is confronted by Jesus, the Samaritan woman at the well when she encounters Jesus or Saul on the road to Damascus.


Perhaps the greatest example of these two choices when called upon to make a move is the cross.  As Jesus hangs on the cross, the two criminals dying with Him are confronted by the Messiah.  One is selfish and still focused on getting his own way, even in death.  He denigrates and rails on Jesus rather than turning to the Messiah for sweet relief in the life to come.  The other in humility recognizes who Jesus is and turns to Jesus for salvation.  Both experience the same Jesus.  Both have the same opportunity to make a move.  But only one makes the right move and one day, we will meet him in Heaven (If we have made the same move he made).


Are you willing to make a move?  You probably aren't being led across the country, but probably just next door.  Maybe to a stranger in the store.  Maybe towards a family member who you try to avoid.  Maybe to a place of service in your church or community.  Too many of us get complacent and comfortable right where we are.  We want to meet God on our terms, not His terms.  So we twist who God is to meet our life setting.  That way, we won't need to repent, change or move.  We can keep God in a comfortable place rather than being pushed and stretched or having to repent or change our life setting.  If we don't make the move, we miss the blessings God has in store for us.  We also miss the opportunity to be a testimony to others.  Just think about the impact Janet has on our congregation when we become afraid to risk or change.  Are you willing to make a move?  It's definitely not easy and others will not understand and may not support, but if God is leading, don't hesitate to make that move!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Traffic Jam

This morning (Monday, July 1rst) the employees of BART went on strike.  BART is responsible for the subway lines that over 370,000 people ride daily.  To those of you who don't live in this area, it's a news story that makes you appreciate your traffic situation.  To those of us who live here, it really is Carmageddon!  If I go look at the freeway from the church perched high above I-80, I can see what appears to be a slow moving parking lot.  My sister-in-law and her family are supposed to be at the airport this morning to fly to Hawaii for a vacation.  I wonder if they will actually make it on time.  I just grabbed a peak at the traffic and even the carpool lane is barely moving.  I don't really know the details of the strike, I just know that there are some pretty upset commuters.  I'm glad that I live close to the church and can use back roads to get here rather than getting on the freeway.  I do know that talks broke off this morning, so we might be in for a long strike.

I know what some of you are already thinking, "That's what you get for living in California, the land of fruits and nuts."  No doubt, this place can be a little whacked out.  However, what I first thought of was Matthew 7:13-14 where Jesus says, "Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."  Jesus reminds us that living for Him is like going in the East on I-80 this morning.  But not traveling on the other side of the freeway, but going East on the West bound side, going against the flow.  All of the traffic is headed in one direction and you are one of the few going the opposite way.  Everyone will get mad at you for choosing to drive this way.  They will push, cajole and threaten to make sure you turn around and head in their direction.

Our culture is headed towards immorality and the pace continues to pick up.  The Supreme Court did a masterful job this past week of confirming America's careen towards immorality.  As a culture, we have affirmed more and more perversions and sin until there really is no way to shock us anymore.  We have made divorce as easy and common as buying soda from Wal-Mart.  We have killed over 55 million children since 1973 through abortion.  We have given cohabitation the same merit level as marriage, even making it more economical.  The list could continue, but you get the point.  The culture in America is in a headlong rush to immorality and destruction.

Enter the follower of Christ, who chooses to live in a way which honors God.  These folks are in a huge minority today.  Being a Biblical follower of Christ who chooses to live a righteous life now makes one a outcast...a trouble maker and someone who is hated and mocked.  I remember being a young follower of Christ in the Bible Belt during the 70's. I prayed that God would allow me the chance to live in a place where following Jesus would mean being different from the majority and allow me to be a rebel.  I didn't know God would answer my prayer so quickly and I would never have to leave the country of my birth.  But the time is now.  So buckle up and be prepared for a bumpy ride.  Our culture today is a traffic jam headed towards, sin, immorality, destruction and death.  You are called to be radical and go against the flow.  So enjoy the opportunities you have today to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be a light in a dark world which may actually hate the light, but secretly crave that light.  Follow the words and life of Jesus.