MERRY CHRISTMAS 2017

May it be the best Christmas and Year Ever

                                       

Our Family would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas from our Home to yours!!!!

May it be the best Christmas and Year Ever

!

Whatever your life’s journey or wherever you find yourself this Christmas, remember God love’s you so much He came down as a baby. Jesus, lived, grew in wisdom and stature, died for your sins, and rose from the dead, so that you might have life and life more abundant, eternal life. He was tempted in every way as you are but without sin. (Hebrew 4:15) May He encourage your heart and help you remember what’s important even when things may not be as you expected or would like. You are blessed to be a blessing. 

Our Christmas’ have changed since my husband and I’s first one together 37 years ago, but one thread has been a constant for us, to seek to emulate Christ to others around us. For example let me share three thoughts: Patience, Lowering our Expectations, and Memories with Extended Family.  A free gift at the end. (more…)

HEARING GOD THROUGH SABBATH REST (Series 2)

Part 3 of 3

As Jim (my husband) and I travel we are privileged in this season to sit and listen. Our community has become our sisters and brothers serving around the world.  I sit back in amazement as to how God has orchestrated and discipled us to bring us to where we are. As we sit and allow the Holy Spirit to mesh hearts with those whom we connect with, the doors are open to hear one God-story after another of how JESUS is discipling them. We find we can relate on many levels. Only the true God can bring people together as if they have been together forever or pick up right where we left off.  The Scripture says the purpose of a man’s heart is deep waters but a man of understanding draws it out. (Proverbs 20:5) Jim and I are always delighted to see how the Holy Spirit allows others to trust us enough to share their deepest heart issues. Truly a gift from God and we don’t take it lightly.  

As much as we enjoy these exposures, we get tired like any other person. We need to take time away to rest, regroup, and remember by focusing in on Jesus, involving family and local community, not just on a daily basis but working toward more extended times, weekly. We are continually a work in progress.  Can you relate to that continuum…?

As we continue with part 3 of 3 of Pastor Neil Olcott’s message of Sept. 17, 2017, preached at Compass Point : “What did God intend for His people to hear in the Old Testament when He commanded for them to take a Sabbath?”    

So far what have you heard and learned from Jesus through Pastor Neil?  

Part 1 GOD TAKES A REST: God who never sleeps, who is all-powerful and ever-present, decides to take the day of rest on the Seventh day.  

REST TO GOD IS SERIOUS BUSINESS.

Part 2 REST IS A COMMAND

GOD ‘BLESSED” AND “SET ASIDE” THE SEVENTH DAY: A special kind of Rest focused on Him.

THE SABBATH REST ALLOWS GOD TO SPEAK TO US FROM HIS CREATION.

Part 3:  In this blog we will see from Pastor Neill message:

TAKING TIME TO SABBATH CONTINUALLY SPEAKS TO US OF GOD”S SALVATION:  Focusing on God as the source of our salvation.

THE SABBATH REST ALLOWS GOD TO SPEAK TO US OF HIS WORK IN OUR LIVES: Focusing on God as the source of all of our provisions, and blessings.

And SABBATH REST IS TO BE GOOD NEWS: Focusing on God who is the source of all of our joy.

As we know the only way to have a more fruitful and abundant life is through Jesus and spending time in relationship with Him first but how much more fitting when we take Sabbath Rests?  This may mean reevaluating your life’s rhythm(s) or finding ways to change your mindset in the midst of those seasons of life when you feel you are just surviving.

“THE SABBATH CONTINUALLY SPEAKS TO US OF GOD”S SALVATION

by Pastor Neil Olcott

Deuteronomy 5:15 “You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out thence with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.”

The mighty hand and the outstretched arm of God were not wearied by the work of creation. They are full of strength. God’s rest was not for recuperation, but for exultation. Now the same God has shown his power not just to create but also to save. So the focus of the sabbath is on God not only as the source of creation, but also as the source of salvation.

“Your God brought you up out of the land of Egypt . . . THEREFORE he commanded you to keep the sabbath day.” One day of rest in every seven, kept holy to the Lord, reminds us and shows the world that GOD is our creator and our deliverer—we did not make ourselves, we cannot sustain or save ourselves without his grace. “Be still and know that he is God so that He will be exalted among the nations” Psalm 46:10.

 

THE SABBATH REST ALLOWS GOD TO SPEAK TO US OF HIS WORK IN OUR LIVES. 

What did the Lord say at the exodus from Egypt? (Ex. 31;12-13)

Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.

Exodus 31:12–13 stresses again the truth that the sabbath signifies our utter reliance on God’s grace.

“And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, You shall keep my sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.”

The sabbath is a sign. It points to a truth that we are never to forget. The truth is that God (and not we ourselves) has sanctified us. He has chosen us and set us apart and worked to make us distinct among the peoples of the earth.

In Summary Exodus 20:11 and Deuteronomy 5:15 and Exodus 31:13 teach that the sabbath is a way of remembering and expressing the truth that God is our creator and deliverer and sanctifier. We are dependent on him for all we have in the world, for our deliverance from enemies, and for our holiness. He has indeed designed that we work. But our work neither creates, nor saves, nor sanctifies. For these we depend on the blessing of God. All things are from him and through him and to him. Lest we ever forget this and begin to take our strength and thought and work too seriously, we should keep one day in seven to cease from our labors and focus on God as the source of all blessing.

SABBATH REST IS TO BE GOOD NEWS 

It is a shame that for so many people, sabbath keeping is thought of solely in terms of what you can’t do. Its original intention was certainly intended to be good news not bad news. The sabbath command is in fact a command to experience joy.

Isaiah 58:13-14 (NIV)

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

God’s purpose for us on the sabbath is that we experience the highest and most intense joy that can be experienced, namely, that we “take delight in the Lord.” And yet what he finds again and again is professing Christians who prefer little human-sized pleasures from things that have no close relation to God at all.

If you worked seven days a week in the hot sun to keep life and limb together, with scarcely any time for leisure and reflection, would you consider it burdensome if your God came to you with omnipotent authority and said, “I don’t want you to have to work so much. I want you to have a day to rest and enjoy what really counts in life. I promise to meet your needs with just six days of work”? That is not a cruel command. It is a gracious gift.

WHY SO MANY PEOPLE THINK OF THE SABBATH AS A BURDEN

The reason that so many people feel it as a burden is partly that we have so much leisure, we don’t feel the need for the sabbath rest; but more important, I think, is the fact that not many people really enjoy what God intended us to enjoy on the sabbath, namely, Himself. Many professing Christians enjoy sports and television and secular books and magazines and recreation and hobbies and games far more than they enjoy direct interaction with God in his Word or in worship or in reading Christian books or in meditative strolls.

Therefore, inevitably people whose hearts are set more on the pleasures of the world than on the enjoyment of God will feel the sabbath command as a burden not a blessing. This is what John says in 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”

The measure of your love for God is the measure of the joy you get in focusing on him on the day of rest.

It invites us to enjoy what we don’t enjoy and therefore shows us the evil of hearts, and our need to repent and be changed.

IN CONCLUSION: 

Imagine your life with a regular sabbath rest. What do you do with those twenty-four hours if God forbids work? Nap in a hammock. Swing on a porch swing, sipping lemonade. Talk with friends. Catch crawfish in the creek with the kids.” Sit at his feet and enjoy him? 

“The Bible tells us that the sabbath is a foretaste of the kingdom of God, where children play in the streets and everyone sits in the shade of their own vineyard. Imagine: God wants such a life for us! An endless summer afternoon, spent in the company of people we love.” Hopefully God Himself, as well. “God says, Why wait for heaven? Start doing it now.”(refer to Pastor Neil Olcott of Compass Point Church )  

What are you hearing from God for what He intended for the Sabbath rest ? 

PERSONAL REFLECTION:  How should you put into practice these truths you are hearing? How are you experiencing God’s blessing’s once you make room for a Sabbath Rest? What mindset(s) do you need to change or have changed to make it happen?  Would love to see your thoughts in the comment session of Hearing God through Sabbath Rest (series 2/Part 3 of 3).

From One Pilgrim to another together on the journey,

along with Pastor Neil Olcott of Compass Point Church

”Consider how you may spur one another on towards love and good deeds….. encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

“ Intentionally journaling alongside of mission minded women in order to encourage them to see God in their story, moving them closer to Jesus, and to discover their place in God’s Kingdom so God will be worshipped among the nations” 

HEARING GOD SPEAK THROUGH SABBATH REST (Series 2)

PART 2 of 3

You say why so much talk on Sabbath Rest?  In today’s world there is so much info, so much busyness and business hype it feels like if “you snooze you lose”. Yet, more than ever, we see so much stress related health issues today, burnouts, depression, and broken relationships. Something has to give. So how does sabbath rest fit in? Does it help that God says it is a command and we aren’t taking it serious?  

We are going to look at more thoughts, along with some of mine, from Pastor Neil Olcott’s message preached on September 17, 2017  “What did God intend for His people to hear in the Old Testament when He commanded for them to take a Sabbath?” (Part 2 )

Last week we looked at:

GOD HIMSELF TAKES A REST: The God who never sleeps, who is all-powerful and ever-present, decides to take the day of rest on the Seventh day.  

REST TO GOD IS SERIOUS BUSINESS: A sabbath rest gives us a chance to become conscious of the eternity in our time,and  to live mindful of the presence of God.

And now we will see:  SABBATH REST IS A COMMAND, GOD “BLESSED” AND “SET ASIDE” THE SEVENTH DAY and THE SABBATH REST ALLOWS GOD TO SPEAK TO US FROM HIS CREATION.

As you read see what you are hearing from God when it comes to God’s Sabbath Rest in your life. (more…)

HEARING GOD SPEAK THROUGH SABBATH REST (Series 2)

Pastor Neil Olcott's Sermon September 17, 2017 Part 1 of 3

Exodus 31:17 (NIV) It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.”

I love the way God works. Here we have been discussing Sabbatical Rest and this Sunday my pastor, Pastor Neil Olcott preached on: “Hearing God Speak Through Sabbath Rest”  

I asked him if I could edit it and use it for you. It is a great follow up from the last blog by Dr. Jim O’Neill who wrote “God on Sabbath.”

GOD RESTED ON THE 7th DAY AND IT WAS CONSIDERED HOLY.

GOD TALKS ABOUT A CERTAIN KIND OF SABBATH REST.

This blog series by Pastor Neil will be in 3 parts

Part 1: Introduction

He started off reminding us, God speaks to us in many ways: through nature, other people, His Word, and the Scriptures. We are created in His image, to have a relationship with him and to live in community. Unfortunately, we find that we, too often isolate ourselves and shut ourselves off from others due to a fear that we don’t have time or they might overwhelm us with their personal problems and issues. The danger of this is we are unknowingly cutting off the very important way in which God speaks into our lives. We diminish this avenue of communication from God to us and to others.

Even though our tendency is to isolate and protect ourselves, in truth, the opposite is true as well. We often fail to truly stop from our busyness, and schedules, long enough to enjoy any form of a Sabbath rest.

Or may I (Sterling O’Neill) add, too, as workers for God’s Kingdom we often give to others at the expense of not taking time for ourselves. I cannot count on my hands how many times I hear God’s people, who are in ministry in response to my question “How are you?”.

Their answer “I am busy and tired but there is great joy. Or “I feel a little overwhelmed but God is good” and pass over how they are really feeling or doing. Are we really being honest with each other? Or giving ourselves permission to rest and allow our emotions or energy to catch up to where we are. or has busyness become so normal we feel if we aren’t busy or tired we aren’t really doing something for God? Eventually it will get the best of us one way or another.  

With all the changes and transitions that Mission/Ministry Workers experience along with Spiritual Warfare it can be exhausting and lonely. Busyness and isolation has almost become normal and we feel lazy if we aren’t doing something.  

I for one often feel guilty personally if I am resting. To be truthful I am guilty of not sharing how I really feel for fear of being judged, or not understood. Because maybe I shouldn’t be feeling this way, or something is wrong with my walk with God. Every entertain these thoughts?  

Taking a Sabbath rest is a great way to reconnect to God in the midst of these unsettled times and see our need for Him and others in our lives. A time to slow down and get eternal perspective.  

Neil continues to say, that the Sabbath rest, instituted and practiced by God Himself is supposed to be a part of every Christians life and yet we fail to practice a Sabbath rest. To be honest, we don’t really understand it or we simply ignore it.  

Where are you on the continuum?

 

What are we doing when we aren’t honest or don’t understand it or even ignore it? We are hurting ourselves and our relationship with God and our ability to hear Him speak into our lives as a result of our neglect to connect with Him through Sabbath Rest that He commanded of us.  

Most of us have a difficult time imagining a day devoted to rest. We admire people who work hard and play hard. We have weekend projects, maintaining home or yard or garden. We travel or watch television. We have ball games and family obligations and hobbies. There is too much to do and too little time, and anyway, idle hands are the devil’s workshop, right?

Sure, sometimes we feel the stress of busyness. We know we need a break, and we say that we should stop and smell the roses so to speak. But there never seems to be enough time for rest. We make distinctions between regular time and “quality time.” We know the consequences of such stress: high blood pressure, heart attacks, broken relationships, sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, and so on. Yet even knowing these things we still push on and refuse to take a Sabbath rest.

 

YET GOD RESTED

 

How strange! A God who never sleeps, who is all-powerful and ever-present, decides to take the day of rest! And because God rested, God directs God’s people to rest

Exodus 31:17 (NIV) It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.”

 

REST IS SERIOUS BUSINESS

 

The word sabbath actually comes from the Hebrew verb for “he rested.” God instructs his people to keep the sabbath holy as a perpetual sign of the covenant between God and Israel. In fact, God takes the day of rest so seriously that the community should put to death “everyone who profanes” the sabbath.  

Exodus 31:14 (NIV) “‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. Rest is serious business! Serious enough that God rested.

The truth is we all die, regardless of how we spend our time. When we die we will leave behind unfolded laundry, unchecked items on our to-do lists, unkept appointments on our calendars. Our business will not be finished. Staring at our calendar we realize our entire schedules should be written in pencil, because it all depends on the second-by-second beating of our hearts, tentative, subject to change at a moment’s notice.

A sabbath rest gives us a chance to become conscious of the eternal in our time, to live mindful of the presence of God.

Our time here is too precious not to take a sabbath rest. If God took time to rest and commanded we rest too as a sign of His covenant with His people,, we should see it as serious business too.  For each person and family it will look different and may change with each season of life. 

What are you hearing from God for what He intended for the Sabbath rest?  

Next blog…. will continue Pastor Neil’s thoughts on, Hearing God Speak through Sabbath Rest” Part 2

Personal Reflection:  When you think of God taking a rest what are you hearing?  How serious is sabbath rest to you today? How can the Sabbath Rest give you a chance to become conscious of the eternal and to live mindful of God’s Presence in your life? We would all love to hear your thoughts in the comment section of “ Hearing God Speak Through Sabbath Rest”

From One Pilgrim to another together on the journey,

”Consider how you may spur one another on towards love and good deeds….. encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

“ Intentionally journaling alongside of mission minded women in order to encourage them to see God in their story, moving them closer to Jesus, and to discover their place in God’s Kingdom so God will be worshipped among the nations” 

THE LOST ART OF THE SABBATICAL REST SERIES 1

God on Sabbath (Part 3 of 3)


“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:2-3)

By Guest Writer Dr. Jim O’Neill, Author of “Teaming up with God

God did the unthinkable; He rested on the 7th day. After 6 creating filled days with minutes, hours and days full of bringing the universe out of nothing. He concluded the week with a rest. This would be called the Sabbath…the rest. This would become so important that God would call it ‘holy’. Rest is holy? Yes!

Does rest work? We humans cannot function well without rest, both nightly and weekly. When the Communists took control of Russia in 1917 within a short period of time Vladimir Lenin and their leaders sought to remove all vestiges of Christian influence including the 7 day work/rest sequence. They created a 2-week cycle for work and animal care. Within months their animals could not sustain this much work without rest as this new pattern was destroying their economy. When their animals and humans functional rhythms disintegrated, the leaders had to admit there was something to this Christian idea of rest. They had to go back to the 7-day cycle or risk of destroying the social order. (more…)

THE LOST ART OF THE SABBATICAL REST SERIES 1

5 Practices to Jump Start your Sabbath (Part 2 of 3)


(Psalms 42:7)  “Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me”  

(Guest writer with Sterling is Dr. Jim O’Neill)

Wayne Miller notes in “Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and delight in our busy lives” that we are driven by three values, “consumption, speed, and productivity consumption have become the most valued human commodities.” These values hinder us from giving careful attention to our souls.

What I would like to suggest is 5 practices to help jump start us forward in attending to our souls and push back against these cultural trends.

  1.  IMPORTANCE OF LOCATION:

Find a place isolated from unnecessary noise. If possible a venue with no or little computer or cell service. A place that is beautiful and meaningful to you. The correlation between the physical space outdoors and meeting with God seems to be evident throughout Scripture.

Jim and I love the beach or the mountains. Sometimes it might just be a free place provided to just get away from the familiar. Last year right before we resigned from our last ministry assignment, a ministry couple, friends from college, happened to come through to visit. After our sweet time, they offered their place at the beach for us to use anytime. God knew, but we didn’t, we would be in need of asking our friends, one month later, for their place.

When you think of a sabbath, how important do you think the location is for you? What spot might be meaningful, beautiful and/or free from unnecessary noise for you? (more…)

The Lost Art of the Sabbatical Rest Series 1

Making The Case For Sabbath Rest (Part 1 of 3)

 Blog entry written by both Jim and Sterling O’Neill

About Dr. Jim O’Neill: Husband of Sterling O’Neill.  Been married now almost 37 years. Degrees in Pastoral, Missiology and Anthropology. Served in the Philippines for 13 years and in missions work for over 36 years. Leader, Speaker, and Author of “Teaming up with God: Theology of Pre-Evangelism”.

” Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… (Matthew 11:28)

 

Why did it take us, so long to pursue a sabbath rest for our own souls? We love the Lord and we love ministry but we had definite seasons where we were serving on empty in our spiritual tank. We did not grow up in a ministry context where we valued rest for the soul.

After one busy ministry season one pastor graciously asked, “Have you taken time to rest?  

Sure,” we said, “We take times off for dates,vacations, extra study and think tank times. We think we do pretty good in these areas. It just has been a busy season. ”  

He said “How about times where you are unplugging from your computer or cell phones?”

Ouch! “Noooo! Not really. Great question!” Guilty!
(more…)

I DON’T LIKE TENNIS!

We Plan But God Directs

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

When you were young was there a sport or hobby, or a skill you were made to participate in or develop that you didn’t like? Or something you were working hard on but it didn’t turn out the way you felt it should have, wasting all of your time?    

When I was young, tennis was something my grandmother and aunt played and desired for me. It was the known game of the “elite” (those with more financial means, usually those with power and influence or privilege). I didn’t consider myself “those people”. I thought, to be “one” of them meant you weren’t friendly to others less fortunate than you.

But because I loved and was taught to respect my grandmother I took the tennis lessons she paid for. I learned the basics of tennis but never really developed my form. Oh how my grandmother would be smiling today if she were to see me. Presently, Jim and I play several times a week. I’ve come a long way since those formative years. (more…)

TEACHABLE MOMENTS

God's Love and Discipling of Others (Especially our Children) Starts with Us


My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:20-23

As I was reading a blog by Keith Webb on “How Vulnerability Makes you a Stronger Leader” I read two insights on leadership and vulnerability: 

“When we honestly acknowledge our faults and weaknesses we unlock leader development dynamics that strengthen not only you but the people around you.”

“Being vulnerable really comes down to humbly acknowledging weakness, asking for help and empowering others to use their strength” (keithwebb.com)

MOTHER, THE CEO

What stands out in your mind’s eye as you read these quotes above? As mothers we have the opportunity to grow in skills of leadership development too. Yes, leadership development. We are leading, as well as modeling what leadership looks like to our children. Scary thought.

So what leadership dynamics are you learning along the way?  

As parents we don’t always have the answers yet we make our kids often feel we do. What happens when they are grown and don’t always have the answers? What are we modeling for them?  

It is in those “Teachable Moments” where we find some of our greatest growth and most significant impact.  Below is a simple story (not always this clear) where the principles of leadership are displayed and can be applied in most any situation as we work with people.

When our daughter was 13, now 33, she decided she wanted to cut her hair. I was out for the evening so the next morning when I went to wake her up for school I noticed her hair.  The whole front of her hair had been chopped off.  “Kelli what did you do?”  I could have used a little bit of humor at that moment. (more…)

THE BABY SHOWER

Teaming up with God

     I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 

(I Corinthians 3:6)

Indie, horrified that she gave birth to a Down Syndrome baby girl, now carried the burden of what people might say about her. On our island, generally the Filipino’s believe if a baby is different in any way it is because the sins of the parents have been passed down to the child. Many parts of the world believe this too.   

So when their little girl was born with Down Syndrome, people seemed to talk in the community. They said it was because of Indie’s sins, that God was angry and was passing judgment on her and her family. She was now being ostracized by her own culture.

How would one move in, team up with God and share Christ and His love in this context?  (more…)