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707 W. Fargo Ave.
Hanford, CA  93230-6701
Pastor's Update

The Presence of the LORD

“A dear elderly lady was teaching the four and five-year-old Sunday School class at church. During one of the lessons, they were learning about the building of the temple. She explained to the students that when the temple was finished, the presence of the Lord filled the temple. Instantly the eyes of each child got wide and full of excitement. She soon discovered, however, that the source of their excitement was not joy that God had come to dwell in the temple, but rather, delight at imagining that huge building filled with presents from God. Aren’t we often much like those children? We are easily more excited about our presents from God than being in the presence of God.” (Michael Hodgen)

Like the children in the story above, believers often make worship about themselves and not Almighty God. Some participate in corporate worship to draw attention to themselves. Their singing does not come from the heart but is just a performance. However, others remain silent due to their embarrassment. These shy ones fear their voice sounds awful and they cannot carry a tune in a ten-gallon bucket. Both responses focus on the worshipper and not the One who is to be adored.

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My Third Hand

I dropped a wire nut trying to replace a light fixture outside the garage last weekend while being a handyman at home. I was in such an awkward position holding the fixture and attempting to attach two wires together. Of course, the other nut I had in my hand fell too. Now what? I thought about texting my wife, but my phone was in my pocket. (Regrettably, I do not possess an extra hand.) I did not want to let go of the fixture. What was I going to do?

Then, I heard a noise behind me on the sidewalk. A couple was walking their two dogs. I turned around and asked if they would give me a hand picking up the elusive part. Immediately, the man gave his wife the dog leash he was holding and came over to find it. After handing it to me, he recounted how he was in the same situation the other day. He had just experienced my predicament and was willing to help. That was a great act of kindness. I have seen these neighbors before walking their dogs by our house. I was thankful that he was glad to lend a hand.

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Prayer Is For...

“Until we know that life is war, we will not know what prayer is for.” What a curious quote! John Piper’s statement has a nice poetical feel which caused me to consider what he meant by it.

So, I researched Grudem’s definition: “Prayer, which is personal communication from us to God, not only helps us know about God but also helps us truly know God. Through prayer we can communicate our requests to God, confess our sins to God, and give adoration, praise, and thanksgiving to God.” (Christian Beliefs by Wayne Grudem) Prayer is having intimate conversation with the Almighty. We are to seek our Heavenly Father’s will in our supplications. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14–15, NKJV)

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Our Sun and Shield

Recently, I found an interesting old hymn, “Sun of My Soul.” Have you ever sung it? I have not. It was written by John Keble (1792-1866). John was a professor of poetry at Oxford University. Later he became an Anglican minister at the Hursley parish church. John wrote the hymn in 1820 while he pastored there. Kenneth Osbeck reports that it was published with a collection of Keble’s poems. “This poem was originally named ‘Evening’ and was based on the account in Luke 24:29, where Jesus dined with the two Emmaus disciples following His resurrection.” (Amazing Grace-366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions: by Kenneth W. Osbeck, September 23rd)

The Bible verses associated with this hymn greatly intrigued me. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, Blessed is the man who trusts in You!” (Psalm 84:11–12, NKJV) I do not ever remember reading that God is a sun. Many other words are often used to describe our Heavenly Father. For example, He is the Potter; we are the clay. He is our Creator; we are the creatures. The LORD is a consuming fire, our counselor, and our purifier. This is the only passage in the Bible that characterizes God as a sun.

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A Dream or Reality

Everyone knows that dreams can really fool you. Recently, I thought I was playing in a real basketball game with referees, a time clock, and a crowd watching. At the tipoff, the ball came to me on a breakaway, and I scored. Then, the point guard from the other team passed the ball to his teammate. I promptly stole the ball and scored. Next, the opposing team was able to dribble down the floor and missed. However, my teammates were able to run a fast break. I got the ball along the baseline and sank it but was fouled on the shot. So I went to the free throw line to attempt a three-point play. The ball slipped out of my hand as I shot, it went straight to the basket, and rattled in.

Then, I woke up smiling knowing I had been dreaming because every shot went into the hoop. These enjoyable thoughts stirred up my emotions even though it was not reality. Have you ever had a dream like that?

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The Biblical Worker

“God rewards diligent workers,” my father said while teaching my brother and I to work hard. However, there are many fathers who give the opposite advice, “Don’t work any harder than is necessary.”

For example, a management consultant made the following observation: “Be the first in the office every morning, be the last to leave every night, never take a day off, slave through the lunch hour, and the inevitable day will come when the boss will summon you to his office and say, ‘I’ve been watching your work very carefully. Just what are you up to anyhow?” (Michael Hodgin) The management consultant in this story sounds a lot like my father. However, the boss has the typical attitude found everywhere in the workplace.

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Day Dreaming in Church?

Michael Hodgen tells the following story: “just before his sermon, a pastor commented to one of the church deacons that he had been so tired during the preparation of his sermon he had fallen asleep while preparing it. The deacon thought for a moment and suggested, ‘I guess that’s not a very good sign for this morning, is it?’” That relates to another of Hodgen’s statements, “the easiest way to stay awake during a sermon is to deliver it.”

There are a lot of jokes about long winded pastors and people sleeping in church. It is easy to be distracted while listening to a biblical sermon. In reality, it takes a lot of practice and diligence to be attentive to a good expository sermon. We must use certain listening techniques.

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Your Speech Filter

There was an ordinance in Grand Rapids, Michigan that prohibited a person from willfully annoying someone else. It was removed by the City Attorney because the terms were vague and unenforceable. (Jim Wilson & Jim Sandell, 300 Illustrations for Preachers) My imagination caused me to chuckle while trying to figure out what caused the ordinance to be written in the first place. It is very possible to annoy or irritate others through our actions or words.

Those who tend to dominate a conversation by talking only of themselves or their family members can cause such annoyance. Instead of taking turns in the conversation by actively listening to the other person, the speaker appears to love to hear their own voice. It is bothersome when a person is only interested in themselves and not others.

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Sawing Sawdust

Have you heard Dale Carnegie’s quote that sounds a little like Humpty Dumpty? “All the King’s horses and all the King’s men can’t put the past together again. So let’s remember: Don’t try to saw sawdust.”

Like Humpty Dumpty, past events in our lives cannot be reconstructed. However, we often dwell in the past longing for “the good old days.” Our memories have blocked out all the bad parts of a glorified experience but have exaggerated the enjoyable elements.

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Halt! Mass Murderer!

Mass murder is always horrific and terrible to contemplate. The senseless loss of life is impossible to understand. These recent shootings have left me numb and in a state of mourning. I am not wearing sackcloth and ashes, but my heart is filled with sorrow.

What followed this week was confusing. Reporters, politicians, and government officials engaged in debate and finger pointing. These mass murders became a political football to be booted around by both sides. However, no solutions were found by their rhetoric. It has left our hearts sad and unresolved.

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