Get the Right Perspective

Shiny red heart

Get the Right Perspective!

And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.  Numbers 14:6-9

Leaders of Israel, including Joshua and Caleb have just spent 40 days spying the promised land and the inhabitants of that land.  They have seen how wonderful the land is, but also how big, strong and numerous are some of the inhabitants.  Having spent too much time and consideration of the enemies in the land, the people lose perspective on how big God is, and they become very afraid.  Joshua and Caleb bring proper perspective.  Somehow they were not shaken or influenced by the enemies they saw, nor were they influenced by the faithlessness of their own people.  They remind everyone that with God, anything is possible.

The key  to overcoming is understanding God’s power and our place in relationship with Him.  If I understand and truly believe both God’s power and His immense love for me, then nothing is too big.  The people of Israel not only forgot all of the amazing things God did and his power in freeing them from Egypt, but equally important, they forgot his motivation.  God did those things because God loves.  All that he asks of me, he asks out of love.  All He requires and all He forbids is out of love.  I cannot miss this point.  His power and His love are more than enough!

Jesus, cleanse me, heal me, forgive me for the way too many times I lose perspective.  Help me to trust in your power and your love in all that I do all the time.

Cleaning my lenses,

Pastor Dale

 

Seeing and Yet Not Seeing

Seeing and Yet Not Seeing

 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee… When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. 46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.  Matt. 21:10-11,45-46

Jesus entered Jerusalem for what we refer to as Holy week. As He rides a donkey and people are cheering as they perceive that He is a prophet. But He certainly is far more than a prophet. The religious leaders assume He is a hieratic and a pain in their side. They constantly try to bait Him in arguments and catch Him off guard, but they can’t. They now want to murder Him, but fear the crowd that holds Him in such high esteem.  The majority of the crowds and people that love and followJesus are right about one thing: He came from God. But they miss the fact that He is God, the Christ, and the Savior of the world.  It can be easy to think how clever I am for this discovery or how foolish others are for not seeing it. But I am constantly reminded as I read Matthew, that NOBODY, will understand who Jesus is until Heaven opens their eyes.

In this fallen world, it is easy to see something and yet not really ‘see’ what is going on. Reading Matthew is a sober reminder to me, that just like everyone around Jesus during His time on earth, I too can see all the works of God and still be blind. I am thankful for the gift the Holy Spirit has given me of seeing Jesus for who He is. I must remain humble and remember that I am fully capable of missing everyday what God is doing right in front of me and all around me. It’s clear from Jesus’ teaching during Holy Week that pride and religious zeal are not the tickets to ‘seeing’. Humility and thankfulness of heart are the beginning stages of being able to see correctly.

Thank you Father in Heaven for revealing to me decades ago the hope, joy and salvation that I have in Jesus alone. Thank you for this gracious gift of salvation. Forgive me for missing the mark far too often and for not seeing more clearly what you are doing in my days. Give me humble eyes and the gift of spiritual eyesight that I might not miss as much as I have in the past.

Looking with spiritual eyes,

Pastor Dale

What We Say Does Matter

Words Have Power

 What We Say Does Matter

You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.  I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matt. 12:34-37

Talk is cheap

I’ve said it many times myself.  What we DO is important.  Scriptures tells us that faith without works is dead.  However, it is clear from this passage that what we say does matter.

Ultimately, we will give an account for every careless word spoken.  In this day and age of so much negative and hate-filled speech in the media and on social media, I need to be careful with my words.  Ephesians reminds us how we should and should not speak;

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.’  Jesus said I will be justified and condemned by my words, I need to let that one sink in for a bit.

However, rather than just avoiding careless talk, I  need to be proactive and purposeful in my speech.  Is the majority of my speech peppered with thanksgiving as suggested in Ephesians 5:4?  Do my words encourage, uplift and point people to who they are in Christ?  Or do I get caught up like so many others in the debate and dialogue of the world? Do I  use my words to ‘win my position’?  Do my words stand out in the crowd as words of hope, encouragement and life. Or are my words mixed in with all the over vain babble around me?

Jesus, you were never afraid to speak the truth.  You were constantly tested by those around you and yet you never stopped speaking the promise, hope and love of the Gospel of the Kingdom.  Make me more like you.  Help me to slow down, listen to the Holy Spirit and speak the Father’s words over all around me.

Speaking Slowly,

Pastor Dale

The Call to Follow

Carrying the cross

And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matt. 10:38-39

Jesus certainly does not mince His words.  He talks about bringing a sword instead of peace, cutting your arm off if it causes you to stumble, people hating you and persecuting you because of Him.

The Call to Follow.

Ultimately, the call to follow Jesus is not an easy one for our flesh.  My natural tendency is to do what is comfortable and safe for me.  My flesh doesn’t want to grab a cross and lose my life.  But when I give in to the Spirit instead of the flesh, I find that on the other side of the ‘loss’ there is so much more life.  Jesus states very clearly I will find my life when I lose it for His sake.

When we really look closely at Jesus’ words and the call to follow Him, it’s no wonder why the church in the USA has lost much of its influence.  We don’t want to die.  We have attached a human grace to God’s grace.  We want to live for self and mostly by self and then receive blessing from God’s grace.

Ouch.  My flesh hurts even writing this down.  I’m no different from anyone else.  I hope that as I am embracing this Sabbatical season, I will also embrace the death of my flesh.  I believe that I will truly come back from Sabbatical filled to the brim  if I come back with less of me and more of Him.  That might mean a daily change in all my plans.

Jesus, I truly do want more of you and less of me.  I want the courage and strength to live for you and not for the pleasure of my flesh and self.  Fill me deeply with your Holy Spirit and give me the grace to die that I might truly live!

Denying My Flesh

Pastor Dale

Sabbatical Rest

Dear New Life Church Ohana,

Amy and I hope and pray that you are full of joy and looking forward to a wonderful summer season. This summer certainly brings many significant changes to our Swanson family. Our youngest son, is now a high school graduate; our middle son, is transferring to the University of Hawaii; Amy is now retired from 25 years of teaching ; and we are about to embark on a 12-week Sabbatical!

Although there are personal lessons to be learned during my Sabbatical, I do believe this season is not just for me. I believe that God has something for each one of you during the summer months, and it is important for each one of you to recognize and embrace how God is leading you. There is a ‘Resting in Christ’ and a ‘Releasing for Mission’ that God has for each and every one of us. I pray you will completely embrace these two Heavenly mandates. Remember Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30). Our rest is not a retreat from people or a ceasing of work, but rather and act of seeking daily God to find our source of peace and strength so that we can live out His plans and purposes for our lives.

One of the greatest gifts God has given us at New Life Church is each other. We have a beautiful church family, and I want to encourage all of you to spend time blessing each other and enjoying the riches of relationship in our Ohana. Our team has planned a couple of fun activities to get the whole family together, so take advantage of these planned events as well as the long, beautiful summer days to connect with each other and love our Ohana!

July 8thSupper at 6 (a shared meal in homes and then a fun dessert contest and party at New Life Church)

July 29thOutdoor Movie Night (bring your beach chairs and blankets for a family friendly movie under the stars and enjoy popcorn, treats and more).

One thing that gives me great confidence during my 12 weeks away, is our outstanding leadership team. In addition to our dedicated staff and council we have many faith-filled, committed leaders who feel called to love you, care for you, and pray for your needs. With our team of ministry leaders, 2 or More group leaders and prayer warriors in our church, I am confident that wonderful things are going to take place at New Life Church during this Sabbatical. All of you are called and capable of living out Christ’s mission for our city, and I know you can do it!

While we can all be tempted to take a vacation from God or church during the summer, I hope, instead, that you will press into all that God is doing here at New Life Church. You won’t want to sleep in and miss the fantastic teaching on Kingdom Living that will take place each Sunday morning. Pastor Chris, Pastor Fernando and Pastor Chon Torres will be team teaching this exciting series all summer long.  And I will look forward to hearing great testimonies when I return in September.

With anticipation for all God will do,

Pastor Dale

Finding Your Strength in God

David’s two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel, were among those captured. David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God. 1 Sam. 30:5-6

Observation- Finding Your Strength in God

David has been leading his men in and out of battle. They have won many a fight. However, while out fighting again David and his men leave behind their wives and children in the city of Ziklag. While out fighting their wives, children and livestock are taken hostage by the enemy and Ziklag is set on fire! David and his men are without hope and David is in danger of mutiny and death. Rather than plead his case, kill himself or runaway, David stops and finds a way to find strength in God.

Application

What does it mean to find strength in God? The strength David found led him to then inquire about his family and if God would grant them victory to chase after the enemy and get them back. But first he found strength in God. This must be our response in times of crisis or hopelessness. We need to find a way to strengthen ourselves in God. Do you cry out to Him and ask for strength when you are weak? Do you turn to the Psalms or any scriptures of promise to find strength? I know for me, I have to go straight to the word and then worship when I am feeling weak. I find a great hope in scripture. I hold onto it for dear life and then I begin to worship. And then I find myself being strengthened by God.

Prayer

God thank you that your word is full of stories of real people with real struggles just like me. Thank you for the strength you give in the most desperate of times. Teach me, remind me to always lean on you and look to you in those times of desperation where my flesh would rather look to other sources of hope or find ways to numb out my pain.

 

Pastor Dale

The Fruit of Repentance

Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.  And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.
Matthew 3:8-9

Observation – The Fruit of Repentance

As the religious approach John the Baptist, he rebukes them.  He reminds them that status, heritage, lineage, education, experience, station in life is not what’s needed to enter the Kingdom of God.  Even though the Jews were God’s chosen people, John reminds the religious leaders of the day, that God could raise up a people from anywhere to follow and be His people.  However, John gives them the same message and opportunity he gave everyone else.  Repent.  Turn from your wicked ways.  But in these words it is more than just feeling sorry or saying I messed up.  They are called to ‘Bear fruit’ the fruit that comes with repentance.

Application

What does the ‘fruit of repentance’ look like?  It surely is humble.  It must have actions to it not just mere thoughts or feelings.  The fruit of repentance must be a turning away from sin and turning towards God.  It should truly bear the fruit of righteousness and holiness.  The speech, the thought patterns, the actions of one bearing the ‘fruit of repentance’ must be different than their lives prior to repentance.  This kind of fruit keeps us from missing the mark.  For the religious leaders did not heed the words of John and when Jesus came they missed Him for who He was and is, their Savior!  I want the ‘fruit of repentance’ in my life for I know without it, I am at the same risk as the Pharisees and Saducees were.

Prayer

Jesus, thank you for sending so many messengers ahead of you to give us an opportunity to fully embrace all that you are for us.  Help me to live a life that bears the ‘fruit of repentance’ that I might not miss all that you have for me.  Cleanse my heart, my mind, my eyes, my soul that I might see you for who you are all the days of my life.

Pastor Dale

Living to Win

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Cor. 9:24-27

Observation

To say Paul was an intense man is a huge understatement.  It would also be an understatement to say he was a committed follower of Jesus and Apostle.  Paul knew Jesus immense love for him and knew that the cause of Christ is the only cause that really matters.  In this passage Paul reminds us that there are always situations in life where we can have the outcome of winning or losing.  Winning and losing doesn’t just happen; it happens in how we train, plan and prepare to live our lives.  Paul challenges us, “Run to Win!”  I am a competitive person by nature and I need this reminder.  Winner’s of races and athletic competitions don’t really win on game day.  The win takes place when very few are watching.  They win during the off-season, during practice and even with what they eat at every meal.  The winner of the race dedicates and disciplines his or her life in such a way to be positioned to win.

Application

As I look at my life, am I running/training aimlessly or is there a disciplined plan to win?  I started the year with 3 ½ days of  fasting and prayer.  That was a winning start.  But, after that start, has my flesh continued to surrender to the Holy Spirit in the same way every day?  Am I still longing for his presence with the same passion that I did in January?  Do I hunger for His word daily?  Do I discipline my flesh and listen to the Holy Spirit more?  The honest answer to these questions is sometimes yes and sometimes no.  But I want to win.  Therefore today I choose once again to train my heart and my spirit to totally surrender to Jesus.  I choose to say Yes to a lifetime pursuit of Godliness and Holiness and No to a lazy heart and mind.  Jesus made me to win and I intend to live like it!

Prayer

God, thank you for your amazing word.  Thank you for the kick in the pants this morning to live a disciplined and surrendered life to you.  Give me strength and give me a willful heart to pursue you and your purposes above all others.

 

Persevering,

Pastor Dale

The Grace of God’s Provisions

While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. 11 And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12 And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. Joshua 5:10-12

Observation

Moses lead God’s people on their journey from slavery in Egypt to freedom and then a 40-year season of wondering in the wilderness before they could finally enter the Promised Land.  During those 40 years, God provided for the practical needs of His people in miraculous ways.  One of those miracles was the gift of Manna (heaven sent food) that arrived each morning for 40 years!  While God’s people had to wait for 40 years to get to the Promised Land because of their complaining and lack of Faith, God still provided what they needed daily to survive.  Once they set foot in the Promised Land, rich with resources they could harvest themselves, the Manna stopped flowing to them but God continued to provide placing his people in an environment of plenty.  Those principles are still true today.  There are times in life when provision for me has come miraculously, seemingly out of nowhere.  And there also are seasons where He puts me in a place where I can succeed and provision flows.  Both are through His hand and timing.

Application

It’s easy sometimes for me to get anxious when things are not going according to plan.  It’s especially difficult when my efforts don’t produce what I think or feel they should produce.  This passage is such an encouragement to me, because it reminds me of this truth; where God calls me He will provide for me.  It might rain manna or He might place me in fruitful ground.  Regardless His hands always stretch far and wide enough to provide.  I need to trust more and look for the manna in those seasons of what appears to be lack.  I also need to thank him for the seasons of fruitfulness that are so blessed and rich, that I almost think I can do it without Him.

Prayer

Jesus, thank you that you are indeed my provider.  When it has seemed impossible, you have come through in countless ways and my faith has grown as a result.  When you lead me to places of fruitfulness I am refreshed and can rejoice in your provision.  Help me to stay humble and always look to you and thank you for your gracious and timely provisions.

Trusting in my Provider,

Dale Swanson

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