Pastor Keith’s Blog

Alternator Repair

Google is so great.  Some time ago I had to do some repairs on a faulty alternator on my vehicle.  After a couple of keystrokes on my laptop I had step by step instructions on how to remove the alternator, pictures were included and even a video walking through the steps, how easy was that!  AlternatorThe video took about 6 minutes of time, though when watching the video it was obvious that there were some time cuts.  A 6 minute video, mechanics handbooks estimated less than an hour of time, how hard could the task be?  Well it took longer than an hour, in fact it took several removals, partial disassembly of the alternator reassembly, checking it out, and then just as many installations.  In the end a broken commutator brush and faulty ground wire on the engine was the problem, $2.50 worth of parts.

We often say or think, “Just give me the steps that I need and I’ll be on my way.”  Isn’t it interesting that the Bible does not give a list of steps, for how to walk with God.

Clipboard With Blank Check List Ticked

I often thought that it would be nice if the Bible gave simple guidelines on how to become a Christian, three steps for hearing the voice of God, seven principles for overcoming challenges.  In the church we often give such steps and principles to people, yet always there is an understanding that some form of connection with God is necessary and simple steps cannot bring that about.  Gregory of Nyssa said that “Concepts produce idols, only wonder grasps anything”.  If God were to give us a set of steps then these concepts could end up being the things which we focus upon, they could in themselves become idols unto us. Doing the steps would become more important than the end result which the steps point toward.  That is why the scriptures do not give such lists or steps.  Instead we have historical accounts of people who met with God, people who failed to meet with God, the prayers offered, the frustrations lived, the rebellion of the heart, and lives that were changed.

It is in applying the teaching of Jesus and the work of Jesus Christ to our lives, then as we examine the variety of biblical lives and observe their struggles, we see aspects of our lives in some of these people.  Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we learn from the positive and negative examples of others in the scripture and from that we gain the results that God has for us.

Out of our relationship with Jesus Christ and our obedience to His prompting – life comes.

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How Was Your Christmas?

Looking back a couple of days, how was your Christmas?  Was it what you had expected?  Did things go as smoothly as you had wanted them to?  It is likely that all was not perfect, rarely does everything go perfectly, however have you thought about what you would have needed to have a more perfect or a more lasting Christmas?

Some of the joys of Christmas would not have lasted, the toys would have lost their appeal, the food was eaten, the company left or didn’t arrive.  Perhaps there were some hostile words spoken.  Take a moment to think about what would bring greater happiness to your life?  What would bring greater peace to your life?  What would bring greater fulfillment to you?

after-christmasIt seems like we all want more.  We tend to want more money, more possessions, more success, more love, more security, more strength, more honor, more of everything.  However in Deut. 8:2, 3, God says that when He brought the Israelites into the promised land, He humbled them and tested them “so that you would know that man does not love by bread alone. But by every word that proceeds from the mouth of The Lord.”                                                                                        Perhaps the dissatisfaction that comes after Christmas is an indication that we should not be seeking to have great fulfillment from the things we have, or from the things around us.  Instead our life is to come from the very word of God living in our hearts.  The humbling frustrations that come after Christmas are allowed so that we will seek for that which truly satisfies.

Then when God provides and blesses we are told in 2 Cor. 9:11  “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (NIV)”  The blessings and working of God in our life is not just for our benefit, but so that many around us would benefit as well.

This Christmas season, if you have been blessed, share some of that blessing with others.  If you have found yourself frustrated – use that experience to help you realize and to obtain the true source of life which comes from the words of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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No Room

Trying to get more space for our large Christmas day meal, I suggest that, img_4933“We should put the nativity scene onto a smaller table and move it into the corner”.  That would free up a large amount of space in the living room, enabling the dining room table to overflow into that area.  We would then have lots of freedom to entertain, eat, and celebrate.  In light of this, I couldn’t help but think about the space these Christmas decorations take up.

 

There is the tree, img_4937the wreaths, the presents, the special festive cups and mugs, Christmas décor was everywhere.  These adornments are all nice but now we were getting to the place of organizing the meal, arranging the table.   We need room for the family, the guests, and the food, especially the food.  The concept of moving the nativity crèche would increase the capacity for our celebrations.                As we pondered how best to solve the dilemma, I thought,  “This is the way it was the First Christmas.”  The coming of the Christ Child was very inconvenient, it did not fit nicely into anyone’s plans:

  • Mary as an unmarried virgin was pregnant – a social faux pas for that culture and time.
  • Joseph, Mary’s husband to be, contemplated silently putting away Mary and the child she was carrying.
  • Herod the king, in planning to kill the child, definitely did not want the child around.
  • There was no room in all of Bethlehem, so the mother and child-to-be were pushed into a little space in a barnyard manger.

Then I was challenged, would I react the same way?  In the midst of all the good plans and rushing, would I push Jesus into a small corner of my activities, my mind, and even out of sight?  In discussing with my wife Susan, we made a decision.  “Let’s keep the nativity scene on the big table, let’s keep it in the awkward place in middle of the family room.  Let’s not push aside the visible presence of Jesus in this festive season, because it makes our life temporarily easy.”

As we pondered other aspects of Christmas we realized that it is easy to push Jesus into a small corner of our lives, when this season is supposed to be all about Him.  It may be awkward or inconvenient to:

  • Attend a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service;
  • To pray before the family meal – knowing that there are non-Christians in the midst;
  • To talk about what Jesus has done in your life;
  • To take time to be interested in others when they are so boring or self-consumed;
  • To minister to those that are wounded or hurting.

In our business and plans, it will be easy to push Jesus into the back corners of our activities, lives and hearts.  Yet the challenge of Christmas is that Jesus came as “Emmanuel – God With Us”.  Will we make room for Him, will we let Him work in us and through us?

Have a wonderful Christmas, experience the life and power of Jesus Christ within you.  God Bless you, Pastor Keith & Susan Eberhard.

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Lost

A woman lost in a snow cavern with her arms in praise.

It was January of 1990, I was with a group of friends traveling to Hong Kong and then onto China.  Contacts in Hong Kong greeted us at the airport and helped us get to our place of lodging.  We were staying the night in the Fanling region of the city.  Some of the group were in house unit 658 and the rest of us were in 612, they were not far from each other.  The housing units were in clusters of circles with a small courtyard in the middle of each circle of houses.  From unit 612, where I was staying getting to 658 was a simple path of walking across the center court, going through the yard of the end house, which brought you to the next circle of houses, you turned to the right and there was unit 658.

That evening my part of the group left early to meet with the rest at 658 while I remained to clean up. Confident of the direction I left 612, crossed the green space and entered into the yard of the end house.   I exited the back of the yard, turned right and looked up, the unit number was in the 640’s.  I was in the wrong circle of houses.  Somewhere in the simple process I had gone the wrong direction. I retraced my steps to get back into the 610 sphere of houses, only to find that I was in the 630 circle of houses.  Going through another yard brought me into the 590’s.

By now it was dark, a misty haze was settling over the area, it was drizzling and I was getting wet.  Worse of all I realized I was lost.  Now I knew that where I was going was a wonderful place.  I knew that others would be there, whose fellowship I could enjoy.  I knew that the warmth of a building was better than the misery of being outside.  Yet in spite of all this knowledge I was lost.  Worst of all I realized that even if I found someone to get directions from, all the people in the area spoke Cantonese, I only spoke English. The houses were now like a confusing maze to me.  In desperation I called out to God, that He would help me.

Help Sign Shows Lost In Maze Emergency

As I turned around a neatly bearded man with a tall stature approached, in a British accent he asked if I needed help, after which he lead me directly to unit 658.  Once there I enjoyed a great time of fellowship, prayer, sharing of testimonies and sensing God.

Going back would be easy I’d just go with the rest of the group, besides, by know I was also refreshed in the directions.  However, in a unique sequence of events, everyone from my unit left early as I stayed longer to pray with another person.  As I ventured, out retracing my “proper steps” I came right up to 612A and 612B but, in no way could I find unit 612.  I did remember someone saying that in an afterthought of construction 612 was not alongside 612A or 612B, which I needed.  As much as I retraced my steps, looked around and searched, I found that again I was lost.  Again I prayed and this time God sent a lady who spoke perfect English, she easily guided to the right location.

This Christmas season we might ask, “Why was Jesus born”, or “Why did God come to earth in the form of a man?”  Just as I was lost and in need of a guide, so too all of mankind, in a sense, is lost.  We know that we are in some form of darkness, we know that there can be something good ahead of us, we just don’t know how to find it.  We are in need of someone who can speak our language, someone who actually knows the way to get there, someone who will take us by the hand and lead us.

In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  Jesus is the one who came to help us in our lost and confused state.  To find or obtain a true relationship with God by our own ability would be too difficult.  So God came down from Heaven to guide us.  Then, in a similar way it is not good enough that we get the directions once and then I could be on my own without help.  We need to consistently walk with Jesus that He would be guiding us every step of the way.

Let’s take a moment to ask Jesus Christ to guide ourselves into a closeness with God the Father and to help you in every aspect of your life.  Then thank Him for the help that He will give to you.

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