Every Time

Oh, hello there, church. I like to think of greeting you like how Paul would greet the church in many of the New Testament books. Greetings, my fellow believers in the one true God. Grace and peace to you. 

Our students and leaders are at Hume Lake for the week and today is their first FULL day. If you have never been to or heard of Hume Lake, it is an all-out, incredible Christian Camp an hour east of Fresno, with sections of camp specific to elementary, middle school and high school kids. Sierra Bible Church has had an on-going relationship with Hume Lake for numerous years, to which we have been blessed. I, myself, was able to live and work there for 1.5 years, have been a counselor 6 times and even met my husband there. In light of yesterday's message from Pastor Nate, let us continue to pray for our students and leaders- that they will experience an encounter with Jesus, build impactful relationships with one another, and come home with a renewed ownership of their faith, embracing His divine love. 
Students gathering to check in and load their luggage.
A couple of weeks ago, my sweet husband flew me out to Texas to visit with some family who recently moved from California. My uncle is suffering from an awful (not that there are non-awful) form of aggressive tongue/ mouth cancer. He was also diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and the battle he is fighting is just a storm. I was able to stay with he and my aunt for a few days and during that time, had sweet moments with both of my cousins and their families, watched blips of a Giants game with my uncle and had multiple dinners with my aunt and grandma. The time was so precious but the most impactful moments were witnessing my aunt prepare and clean the products needed for his feeding tube, dispersement of pain medicine (or stomach medicine or Parkinson's medicine or ... the list went on and on), and her detailed approach to his treatment. The task is not for the faint of heart or weary of soul. It is regimented and aggressive, so while I'd pretend to be on my phone checking emails, I'd sneak snapshots of them because what I was really witnessing was sacrificial love.

Pastor Nate approached this yesterday and it's a stance we so often have to assess in ourselves and one another as a team, "It's about relationships". In this portion of the text, Matthew 5:38-48, Jesus is very clear- these "I say" commands are all an invitation toward relationships. Healthy relationships. Loving relationships. Forgiving relationships. Agape kind of love relationships that breed goodness and show the love of Christ. So how do we assess ourselves in terms of the difficulties in those relationships? Pastor Nate suggested responding to these four questions:

How do you respond when someone insults you? 
How would you respond to someone who wanted to sue you and take everything you had? 
What happens when someone tries to force you to do something? 
How do you respond when someone wants to borrow what is yours? 

Romans 12:9-21 would assess the characters of believers this way:

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

If the only gain by how we love others is that that person sees a glimpse of the love God has to offer to them, is that enough? Is that enough for us as a church? As we continue to extend our church campus to the greater community around us, that is our hope- that each and every person who comes into contact with our church is shown a love that sparks the invitation of Jesus.

Walking into another week, may you be full of grace and mercy given by a good and kind Father, with the hope of His enduring love. 






Acts Advent Africa Baton Belong Best News Ever Books Built To Belong Christmas Church Craig Hazen Ecclesiastes Ecuador Elder Emmanuel Esther Event Exodus Focus Follow Friendship Global God Heals Heart Hume Lake I Am India James Jesus Kids Min Lazarus Luke Mary Matthew Meet and greet Meet Ministry Miracle Missions Monday Move Mowad Music Nate Nehemiah Only God Pastor Peter Praise Prayer Psalms Refugee Road to Emmaus Sabbath San Francisco Savior Scripture Sermon on the Mount Sermon Sermon Serve Sheep Staff Students Sunday Support Team Teens Temptation Tenderloin Timothy Truth Ukraine Update Welcome What Love Is Worship Youth Ministry abide abiding accessibility adult allergies amends anchor anticipation apologetics authority awana baby baptisms baptism behold belief book breakthrough budget building out building call campus canoes celebrate changes character choice clean coffee commandments commons communion community compassion complete congregational meeting connecting connections corinthians county covenant crisis death dignity direction disc golf discipleship disciple easter elders elections empowered endure enemies esau everyday evidence excuses existence expect extraordinary facebook faith family fasting fast fathers day fear finances financial peace fishes forgiveness foster care foundation freedom fruit gather generosity genesis get up giants gift give giving grace gracious God grandparents grant grief hang ups harvest healing help hilltops holy home honesty hope how humble humility hurts identity impossible increasing integrity interview jacob john join a team join joy judgment kids king lame man laws leadership leader lean in legacy library lifegroups light listen liturgy live loaves loneliness longing loss love marriage mental health men mercy methods miracles missionaries mission money motherhood mothers day mountain top mudslide mvp new life new obedience office opportunity ordinary outpouring pain peace people philippines plagues possible poverty power practice pray privilege progress promise proof psalm purposeful purpose reading recap receive recommendation reconnect recovery redemption restore rest resurrection review risen romans rule sacred sacrifice salt samaritans schools seeds series serving shortcomings signs simulcast sincere solution soul stories strength suffering supply teachers testimony thailand time towel trail transformation transition trials trust valleys vbs volunteers volunteer walk wall washed water waves weakness wealth weekend what where who wine wisdom womens ministry womens retreat womens world youth