Monday, September 14, 2020

To engage or not to engage; that is the question.

If you find yourself sighing, shaking your head or rolling your eyes about things people are saying and the way some people are behaving, you’re not alone. We seem to be in a very divisive time. You may be at odds with your neighbors, co-workers, family, the people on your social media feed or even the people you see in the news.


This can prompt a modified version of ‘fight or flight’ in us. You may feel compelled to engage in the debate or do the opposite and simply bury your head in the sand in avoidance. I know I have experienced both extremes. One moment, I’m ready to respond strongly to that dumb post or write a letter to a network television host (I know how silly that sounds now). The next moment, I’m ready to completely walk away from all the medias.


Don’t do either. Now, more than ever, we need mature, Christ-following individuals to stand strong and model grace and respect despite our differences. We might need to first get our emotions in check and our heads in a good place before we do, but we cannot stand idly by and not contribute to the important issues of our day.


We need to do what Jesus did when dealing with difficult people. He never let people fluster Him. He asked lots of questions which allowed people to feel heard and also added insight to the conversation. And, most importantly, He knew when to silently walk away.


In Luke 4:28-30 in the Bible, we read of a time when Jesus was in the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth. After He amazes the crowd with His knowledge of Scripture, He proceeds to anger them with something He says. It says, “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.”


This is a very tricky and divisive situation with strong disagreements taking place. What does Jesus do? Does he argue and shout and become emotional? No. the Bible says, “But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”


Instead of flying off the handle, all self-righteous and superior, we need to learn how to engage in disagreements with patience and respect and know when to be quiet and simply walk away (or scroll on by). This is called discernment.


Discernment is sensitive judgment and understanding. Spiritual discernment is when God guides us to the best decisions. We all could use more of that! Romans 12:2 puts it this way, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect.”


We can ask God for discernment - in our daily prayers or in the heat of the moment. We may need to take a deep breath and ask God how He would like us to handle our current conversation or situation.


Jesus’ brother, James taught, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” -James 4:17-18


Stay engaged, but do so in the way Jesus engaged: in a mature, respectful and peaceful manner. You may even bring about some righteousness in the process.


Sylvia Gaston

Pastor of Connection and Development

Friday, September 11, 2020

Part Of The Solution

Ok, 2020. I see you there. Surprising us each month with a new set of events to navigate. Anyone else feel less and less surprised by all of the craziness of this season?


My family and I pray together every evening and the list of things we pray for is growing longer and longer. We are praying for people who have COVID-19 or are a part of fighting COVID-19. We are praying against racism and for healing between racial groups. We are praying for political divides to not result in division in God’s house, and for who the leader of America will be for the next 4 years. We are praying for those who have lost their jobs, businesses, or savings during this season. We are praying for those who have grown increasingly depressed or alone. We are praying for teachers, students and administrators in California’s schools who are attempting to do education in a way they possibly didn’t sign up for. We are praying for the protests happening across our country, that they would result in loving, fruitful conversations and not more destruction.  We are praying for members of law enforcement, that they would be committed to serving and protecting and figure out how to do that in the current climate, all while staying mentally and physically healthy. We are praying for victims of abuse who are potentially extra vulnerable. We are praying for kids who have been separated from their families to be returned safely. We are praying…praying...and praying.


Today, I woke up with this reminder from God’s word. Matthew 5:14-16 reminds us: “14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”


I have heard it said, by some, that the Church is part of the problem in a lot of these issues. I know that, to a certain extent, this is true. We are all subject to sin at times. But, God’s plan is to use the Church to bring light to dark places. To bring flavor when the zest of life has turned acidic. To bring solutions, given by the power of the Holy Spirit and His miraculous ways, when there seems to be no way forward.


Here are a couple of ways to bring the light:

            -Perspective - Do you see God working through all of the events of the day? Do you take each breath with the understanding that the breaths we take are all a gift? Do you understand how the things we do, or do not do, impact things spiritually? We are called to live with a heavenly perspective.

            -Perseverance and patience – We cannot allow the troubles of this world to shake us out of the fight. We are not called to do nothing until something better happens. We are builders, disciple makers, healers, and worshipers. We are not guaranteed that the good will come in our lifetime. But we are guaranteed that God wins it all. Waiting for God to move is actually a common part of His plans.

            -Deeper Relationships – People have always been a priority to Jesus. People need to be a priority to us as His followers. How we step out and engage with people is incredibly important. When you reach out, especially when led by the Holy Spirit, it can change things in a big way. 


So, I am calling all Christians, members of my family, let’s be a part of the solution! Let’s reach out and love people. Let’s be victorious in this season and allow other people to share in those blessings. Let’s stay engaged and involved and not afraid to shift the light towards our savior. He can make a way. He wants to use us to do it. Do not give up on prayer. Faith can move a mountain and there are some mountains that need to be moved! You are a part of the solution because you represent the Savior of the world!


Candace Cortez

Executive Pastor

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Rhythms and Routines

Recently, for the first time in five months, I took my wife out to dinner! Our regular date night is something that we have highly valued over twenty years of marriage. It has been one of the regular rhythms we have intentionally built into our relationship.

The dinner itself was not the greatest. We had to sit outside at a table that was in a terrible spot. They brought the wrong order. The food was cold. But it didn’t matter as I sat across from the love of my life and we chatted about mostly nothing. 


A missing rhythm had been restored and I felt things click back into place once again.


We are creatures of habit. We like our routines, even if we hate our routines. What I mean is, the routines in our life give us a sense of stability. Even if we don’t like getting up early to go to work or commuting to school, the regularity of those routines forms a structure of stability in our lives. 


When routines are interrupted, our stress level increases because our comfort and security go down. I’m so much better prepared mentally and emotionally for a challenging meeting, if I’ve gone through my normal morning routine. But if that routine gets interrupted or I feel rushed or a pipe breaks in my house and I have to sleep somewhere else...suddenly what was going to be a challenging meeting now becomes overwhelming.


Well, I don’t know about you, but I think it is fair to say the last six months of our lives has messed with our rhythms!


Much of the regularity of our life has been destroyed. Many people’s work schedules have been interrupted. Our kids’ school schedules have been completely turned upside down. Things as normal as going to the grocery store and, yes, going out to eat have become foreign to us.


This has left many of us feeling highly stressed, confused, and angry. Things we would normally have been able to take in stride, now threaten to break us. We have found ourselves expecting the worst and our worries seem to come to fruition daily.


What are we to do? 


Friends, we have to re-establish healthy rhythms in our lives. In the midst of chaos, healthy routines will help you weather the storms all around. 


It’s time to re-establish family dinner time. We must create boundaries around our consumption of media. We have to regularly shut off our phones and screens. And we must fight to connect regularly with Father God — getting on our knees, spending time connecting with Him and reading His Word.  


What rhythms and routines have you lost in this season? It’s time to start building them back in! The pastors of Kings County would love to help you build a healthy routine of connecting with God. Often a worship service can be a powerful first step. Churches are meeting online (and some outside) all over our community, perhaps your first routine to be re-established would be getting back to the Father. 


I already feel the stress melting away.


Andrew Cromwell

Lead Pastor