In Numbers 20 we find Moses and Aaron again surrounded by people who wanted water. The Lord tells them to speak to the rock, but Moses strikes it twice instead. It is here that we find out the Moses and Aaron will not be entering the promised land. Numbers 20:12 says it like this “But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’” This is a tough blow to Moses and Aaron. At the beginning of Deuteronomy, we find Moses telling the whole story of the wilderness to the Israelites, so that they would remember and know it. By this time the generation that refused to go in has died and the Lord has already told Moses that he was going to die as well. In Chapter 3 we find Moses recounting an interesting conversation between the Lord and himself.
Deuteronomy 3:23 At that time I pleaded with the LORD: 24 "O Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan-- that fine hill country and Lebanon." 26 But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. "That is enough," the LORD said. "Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. 28 But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see."
So, Moses teaches and reminds the Israelites all that the Lord had done and then he encourages them not to forget as well. He is no longer going to be there to remind them, and they can’t forget, so in Chapter 4 of Deuteronomy we hear Moses pleading with them not to forget. Deuteronomy 4:9 says “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
As I was reading this passage during my daily reading the phrase “do not…let them slip from your hearts” jumped out at me. Have we let the memory of the work of God in my life, in lives of those around me, even in the past and stories that we have heard and read, slip from our hearts? That 9th verse has three phrases I want you to think about - don’t forget, don’t let them slip and teach them. I think they key one is “teach them”. If we are teaching them, we haven’t forgotten them, and we haven’t let them slip. Have you been teaching, sharing those stories of the work of God in your life, the movement of God in the lives of those around you, the stories that you have heard from saints in the past, and the stories we continue to read in the scriptures?
I’m sure Moses wanted to go into the promised land and have some fulfillment of this work that he had spent 40 years doing, but I also think part of it was the worry that the people would forget. But it couldn’t be all Moses, the story has to be passed on. If you have given your life to Christ, you have a story that needs to be passed on, don’t let it slip in your heart and don’t let it be forgotten. Who are you sharing it with? Who are you “teaching” it to?
Being at Park these last six and a half years has been some of the most enjoyable moments in
ministry and some of the most challenging moments as well. The moments haven’t been challenging
because of situations or circumstances that I have had to deal with, but challenging
because I haven’t been sure were to lead or how to lead. As I have tried to wade through where
and how to lead it has felt so weird and sloshy and sluggish (I can’t think of better words, I wish I
We have spent time talking about how we see discipleship happen. We have landed on: Initiating
connection, inviting into community, calling to surrender and journeying together into transformation.
There is still flesh that needs to be added to those bones, but that will come as we walk
through it together.
We have talked about what Park as an organization/institution can actually do to help make
discipleship happen and there seems to be three things. We can encourage, we can equip, and
we can provide opportunities for the people of Park, but it is the individuals that, together, make it
The last thing that we have done is talk about what the job of the church is, and it is more than
just making disciples – that is what happens when we do our job. We believe the job of the
Church is to Worship God (Think Love God), to nurture and care for those who are part of the
body (Think love each other), and to share this good news with the world (think love our neighbor).
So, we are forming four teams to help lead Park in how we do these four areas. Below you
will see the purpose for those four teams. Hopefully as you read it, you will see what we think
the organization of Park can do as well as our plan for discipleship.
Worship Team – loving God
Purpose: To encourage, equip and provide opportunities for the body to focus our attention
and adoration on the Lord, give God the praise and acknowledgement He deserves so that
God will behonored above all, and put ourselves in a correct relationship with the Lord, so
that we will be transformed from being in God’s presence.
Nurturing Team – loving each other
Purpose: To encourage, equip and provide opportunities for the members of the body to love
one another, know what it is to be Christ’s disciple, hear the call to surrender, be transformed
into the likeness of Christ, and be together on this journey.
Caring Team – loving each other
Purpose: To encourage, equip and provide opportunities for the members of the body to care
for others in the body who are hurting, sick, weary, lonely, discouraged, or have other needs
so that they will know that they are not forgotten, they are loved, they are not alone and they
are part of the body.
Sharing Team – loving our neighbor
Purpose: To encourage, equip and provide opportunities for the members of the body to love
our neighbors, know who our neighbors are, go to our neighbors, share the love of Christ and
the Good News of Christ with them, connect with them and invite them into the body of
I’m so excited about what is coming and looking forward to how God will use our planting and
watering to make things grow. Keep this in your prayers. Think about what area speaks to you,
maybe you can help us there. I’m glad we are on this journey together. What a joy.
Word from Lynn
This year both of my girls are in Middle School, which just seems crazy.
There are mornings when I will still walk with them down to school or at least
part way to school. Sometimes I will be behind them and they are walking
side by side and I will l wonder what God has in store for them. I wonder
what kind of careers they will have, what schools they might go to, how they
will serve the Lord, and other questions like those. Occasionally I will ask
them what they think they might want to do when they get older (they have
no idea by the way-which is perfectly fine). One of the reasons I think I have
these questions and thoughts is because I want to help them become faithful
woman of God who love the Lord and see their whole lives as being His
and living in faithful obedience.
As I have thought about my girls and their growing, it made me wonder
about how I am doing as a pastor helping you all grow more into the image
of Christ. This fall one of my goals is to be more intentional in doing this. I
want to be intentional about talking with you about your journey, find out how
I can encourage you, support you, pray for you. I want you to know that my
hope for you is that the whole of your life is found in Christ, lead by Christ,
trusting in the Lord, and being obedient in love, service and witness. So, If I
call and ask to talk with you, don’t be scared. I’m looking forward to seeing
where God is going to take us this fall.
Most of us have read or heard the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand, it is in all four of the gospels, and some of us know that there is also a part where Jesus fed four thousand. As I was reading the story about the feeding of the four thousand in Matthew 15:28-39 (You can also find it in Mark 8:1-13) I was struck by a phrase. In the ESV (English Standard Version) verse 32 reads:
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”
The phrase, “I am unwilling to” struck me. The NIV (New International Version) as well as others will say “I do not want to.” When you think of a God who is unwilling, what do you think? It is probably a negative thing. God is unwilling to answer my prayers. God is unwilling to help me. Maybe those things have more to do with us. Remember in Mark 6 where the scripture talks about Jesus being rejected in his hometown, Nazareth. Mark 6:1-6 says:
Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
He could not do any miracles there, or let me write it another way, he was unable to do any miracles there. Why? Their lack of faith. Matthew 13:58, same story about Jesus being rejected, says “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” What if my unbelief has something to do with God not working in my life?
Or let me remind you of the time when Lazarus died and people were saying: “‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (John 11:37) Christ didn’t in the moment do what the people thought he could, so faith was there, but God had larger plans. What the people wanted was less than what God wanted to show and give. There was a plan, a purpose that accomplished more and greater than what they thought could/should be done. What if God’s plan, his desire to not let us have isn’t about him being unable, or us not believing, but God knowing something better, a better way, a better time, a better ending, is what is needed.
Back to the feeding of the four thousand. We don’t’ come to a God who is unable in His own self, but to a God who is unwilling. I know that sounds wrong so let me explain. Unwilling in the sense that God doesn’t want to let us leave without giving us what we need for the journey. This should be an attribute of God that we cling to. This unwillingness to not provide when we stay. This unwillingness to send us out on our own, knowing that without what He provides we will fail, fall, and using the word from scripture, “faint.” It is Jesus’ compassion, Jesus’ heart that breaks that brings about this unwillingness. O how He loves you and me.
It is interesting to think about the crowd. I wonder if some of the crowd left before Jesus broke the bread and fish. I wonder if some of them started to get hungry and left to go and find food. Maybe they thought like the disciples that this is a remote place and if I’m going to eat soon I better get a move on. They may have found a meal somewhere else, but they missed out on a heavenly banquet. They might have enjoyed some choice food, but never gotten to engage with a God of abundance that brought so much that there were leftovers. (Why were there leftovers? – That is for another day). Do we know this unwilling God?
Because of Him,
The other morning Madison was going to be picked up by a friend and her mom from the parsonage and dropped off at school. Michelle and I both had to be gone that morning and we figured this would be a good way to get Madison to school. Madison knew that she was to be looking out the window at 8:45 a.m. and go out the back door when the mother and her friend got there and enjoy her day at school. Well, 8:45 rolls around and Madison is looking out the window. Then, 8:48 rolls around and Madison is still looking out the window. Madison decides at this point that she can’t wait any longer. She gets her stuff together and starts walking/running to school (She didn’t want to be late.) The Mother and daughter show up maybe a minute later, but no Madison. When I got home that evening and Michelle told me what happened, I just laughed. It is such a Madison thing. She can get nervous and anxious.
As I have thought about what Madison did, I started to think about the times that I get nervous and times I get anxious and what I do. I think we can all come up with times in our past where we had to do something new or what lay ahead of us was something unknown and perhaps some nervousness or anxiety crept in. Maybe you didn’t know the outcome of something and you had to wait and you let your mind wonder into all the what ifs, what mights, and what coulds.
I know that the scripture talks about the peace of God, and if we are anxious about anything we should pray and submit our requests to God and that peace will pass our understanding and guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7). I know it, I try and do it, but sometimes I still find that I don’t let that peace past my understanding. I get anxious and start working my plan. I get nervous and fall back into what I think is safe, hoping to overcome and find peace, but that is not where it is. I let my head play out scenarios, come up with conclusions, that take me deeper into places of anxiousness.
Peace is not about an absence of struggles or turmoil or pain. Peace is what comes during those times. Peace is what settles you in your soul. It is a gift from God that needs to be received and sometimes a gift from God that is opened upon us even without our knowledge. Peace is a result of faith, as with Abraham when asked to sacrifice Isaac, but it is also given in grace as an act of love and calling, think about Jesus calming the storm. We need to let it come, ask for it to come, wait for it to come. We need to acknowledge that peace comes as the Lord is near (see Phil 4:5). We also need to praise God when it does come, share the reality of it in our lives so that others will know it can truly pass our understanding.
So next time your ride is late, or whatever may be making your nervous or anxious. Know that the Lord is near. So, “don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” May it be so, O Lord, May it be so. (Just another way of saying Amen).
Because of Him,
I was at the conference office for a meeting last week. As the group I am a part of was starting, one of the guys got out his laptop computer and was trying to connect with the wi-fi. He couldn’t remember what the password was, he thought is was john 3:16, but after he tried it…no luck. Someone else in the group was going upstairs so they said they would see what it was. When they came back down they said, “you were close, it has a capital J and an exclamation point on the end.” To which the guy replied, “Oh yeah, I forgot to be excited about it.” I had a good laugh with that one.
As I have thought about this interaction, I have started to wonder if I ever do the same thing? Not forget a wi-fi password, but forgotten to get excited about the truth of John 3:16? “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
When the angel appears to Mary in Luke 2, the angel says, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” “Good news of great joy,” that seems like it deserves an exclamation point. The “good news.” It is connected with the Kingdom – the good news of the kingdom (Matthew 4:23, Mark 1:15, Luke 4:43, Luke 8:1, Luke 16:16, Acts 8:12). It is called the good news of God (Mark 1:14). It is what is preached to the poor (Matthew 11:5, Luke 4:18, Luke 7:22). It is about Jesus, Him being Lord and the resurrection (Acts 5:42, 8:35, 10:36, 11:20, 17:18). What we also know that one of those things that also makes it good news is that it is for everybody (Mark 16:15, Luke 2:10). And these are just the places where the word “good news” is used. Is the truth of the gospel, the saving work of Christ, the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, the nature and heart of God not also good news? So, I ask, do we forget how exciting it is?
What part of the good news that when you first heard it made your heart rejoice, but now still knowing it is truth, doesn’t do the same thing in you? We can become cynical, we can become discouraged, we can become weary, and I think we have forgotten how amazingly exciting it is. Has what God did, what the Lord offered become so ordinary in our thoughts that we have forgotten how extraordinary it truly is?
I pray that you see and hear it anew again. That it makes your heart race again. That is causes you to smile and sing praises. I pray that as you hear the stories of others, share in their lives, you won’t be discouraged but encouraged and excited about what God has done and still wants to do in each life. The good news is for all.
For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t forget to be excited about it.
Because of Him,
Psalm 96:1 Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Nine times in scripture we hear about a new song. Six in the Psalms, one in Isaiah, and two in Revelation. As I have been thinking about this new year, I started asking myself what my new song I might sing to the Lord be this year. Not a familiar song with more zeal because it has become even more true to me – although I think that is a good thing. Not a song that comes back to your mind because God has continued to be at work – although also good. But, a new song. How are you and I putting ourselves in new places to hear, learn, realize another reason to praise, another tune to sing, another melody to add to your playlist of songs that lift our Lord high?
What part of the fruit of the Spirit are you asking God to make more complete in you this year? What sin do you need to bring to light so that our gracious God can create more fully a clean heart within us? What new step of faith, what new places are you going to go, what new act of generosity, what new outpouring of yourself into someone else, what new conversations are you and I going to have, take, do this year that is going to allow God to teach you a new song?
How are you going to be in His word? How are you going to surround yourself with the body of Christ? How are you going to use the gifts the Spirit has given you for the good of the body and the work the Lord has given it? How are you going to learn a new song?
And when you do, how are you going to share it? Who are you going to share it with? I want you to share it with us. I want you to teach us that song so that we can sing and glorify God with you in it. I want us to sing so that all the earth will know it.
I pray that God will open your eyes and heart and mind to know His truth more fully, His love more completely, His faithfulness more wholly, and His grace more abundantly. And I also pray that it causes you to sing. “Sing to the Lord a new song.” - Amen
Madison and Kaitlyn found a small puzzle at church one Sunday morning, it was a picture of Jesus as a shepherd. They wanted to put it together during the 9 a.m. worship service, but Michelle told them no. She did say that they could work on it before worship started and probably get it done, which they did. As they were putting it together Madison picked up a piece of the puzzle that had Jesus’ face on it and turned to Michelle and said, “look, I found God.” Oh my, I guess she is a preacher’s kid. At least she admits to finding God, that is good.
As I have shaken my head and laughed at Madison’s statement, it has made me think about this Christmas season and finding God. The “wise men” were looking for the Christ child, and found him. There is a promise from God that says when you “seek me you will find me when you seek me with your whole heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Have I found God? Have I found God in this season? Maybe the better question is, have even been seeking or looking?
When Paul was in Athens, he spoke to the Athenians saying: “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:24-27). God is not far. God can be found. God wants us to find him, because as Paul will go on and say in verse 28, “For in him we live and move and have our being.”
Is our heart set on seeking? What does a seeking heart look like? What does your seeking heart look like? We find God in the scripture, for Christ is the word. We find God among the Church, for Christ is the head. We find God midst the hurting, for we are told when we do something for the least we do it for Christ. We find God beside those who are confessing, because Christ is the truth. Where are you seeking God this season? And are we seeking God with our whole heart, all that we can. There may be pieces and parts of our heart that we can’t seek God with, part of our heart that we would say we don’t have a hold of right now. Someone else, something else has it and is keeping us from seeking God with it. With all that you can, will you seek God and then let God free the other parts so that more and more may of your heart may join in the finding?
My prayer for you is that as the Christmas morning dawns and the new year draws close you will be able to say like Madison, “Look, I found God.” Christ came so that we might find Him. Thanks be to God, a God who wants us to find life in Him.
My family and I had gone to Krispy Kreme donuts the other morning. We didn’t eat them there, we just got them and were bringing them home to eat. Madison was holding them on her lap in the back seat as we drove on Richmond Road. As I approached the turn to go left, I waited for cars to go by and for a good gap between cars to occur before I pulled out in front of oncoming traffic. As I turned, I told Michelle if I had been by myself, I would have gone earlier (there were smaller gaps between the cars where I could have made the turn). To which Michelle said, “Yeah, but you have precious merchandise to take care of.” Madison heard Michelle and said something along the lines of “I’m holding the precious merchandise.” I’m pretty sure Michelle was talking about her and the girls as precious merchandise, but Madison was thinking about the donuts. It made Michelle and I laugh.
Michelle’s and Madison’s statements made me think about things that are precious. Things that we consider of value. Things that we think are rare. The dictionary would add things that are not to be wasted or treated carelessly. In the scriptures we find that the law is precious, life blood is precious, Jesus’ blood is precious, the deaths of the saints are precious to God, even Jesus is referred to as the precious cornerstone. I want to point out one other place that talks about what is precious. 2 Peter 1:3-4 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
The promises of God are precious. Do we know them? Those truths of God that we can count on. Those proclamations from the most High that will not fail. The declarations from our Savior that we can hold onto when the storms are raging, when life is fading, when the pain seems unbearable, or the night and darkness seem to go on and on.
Peter would call The Lord’s promises not only precious, but also great. Great as in terms of large or powerful. Do we know them? Promises speak to us about God’s faithfulness. They speak to us about the Lord’s nature and desire. They speak to us about our savior’s heart and what is to come.
Do you know them? Do you believe them? Do you trust them? And are they precious to you? Do you treasure them as something of value, something that we hold onto because we know it will make all the difference?
Donuts are a precious thing, as Madison had in mind. My family is a precious thing, as Michelle had in mind. But even more precious are the promises of God. These promises that allow us to walk where we wouldn’t normally walk. Wait when we wouldn’t normally wait. Give when it doesn’t always make logical sense. Hope when it seems like there is no reason to hope. Praise God for His great and precious promises.
Michelle, the girls and I were out to lunch with a young couple the other day. During our lunch, somehow we got into the conversation about Madison driving and her getting the keys to the van and being able to drive. Michelle asked her what she would do once she got in the van. Madison said that she would put it in drive and drive. Michelle told her that would be a bad idea because we had pulled into a parking space and driving forward wasn’t an option. Madison said that she would put it in reverse first and back out. Michelle asked how she was going to know if it was okay to back out and she said she would look in the display on the dash. Michelle told her that she would also need to look and not just trust the display. Michelle asked her what she would do once she had backed out. Madison said she would drive home. Michelle asked her how she should do that. Madison went on to say that she would put the van into drive and push on the pedal. Michelle said, “which pedal?” Madison said, “the go pedal.” I must have missed that when I learned how to drive. The good news is, she knew which pedal it was and she didn’t call the brake pedal the stop pedal, so that is good. Also, she is only 13 so we have a few years.
As I laughed at her comment, it made me think about the times in my life I need to press the “go” pedal. There are times when we need to stop, and maybe that is where you are. A time to be still and know that He is God. A time to have a sabbath with our Lord, to enjoy His presence and peace. After Jesus’ resurrection, before the disciples were to “go” into all the world, they were called to wait for the Spirit. So, maybe that is where you are, but I am in a place where I need to go. I am one of the slowest people at doing some things. Things I know I should do, but don’t feel ready. Places I should lead, but don’t think the church is ready. Work I don’t ask others to do, because I don’t want to inconvenience them. What I am really doing though is not allowing God to use me, not trusting that God will work it out, and not allowing God’s people to serve Him in work that He has created them to do.
Some of those things that I know I am supposed to do are to have what I am calling holy conversations. Conversations not just about how you are doing, not just about letting you know you are thought of, but asking you things like: How are you letting Jesus be your Lord? Where are you seeing Him in your life? How you are about His business in all you do? How can I help you know Him more fully, surrender to Him more deeply, and love Him even more?
I am going to try and make expectations known, starting in particular with our leadership. Not just job descriptions about what needs to be done, but what type of people and behaviors we need to be and display. To help us experience God in a more profound way as Lord and we as His servants. A body being about His work to which He has called us.
Those expectations will extend to the whole church as we define who we are and how we believe God has called us to be about His business here at the corner of Clay and E. High St. Looking at the way we establish connections with those whom God is putting around us and calling us beside those who don’t know Him. Expecting us to be cultivating relationships and out of those places inviting people to join us in community, to at least see who we are and what God is doing among us. Challenging us to call people to surrender more fully to Christ, to share with them things we have done, ways we have made room for Him, opportunities that are coming up for them (and that would be us too) to allow Christ to be Lord of another piece of our heart and lives. And then not allowing this journey of transformation to be taken alone, establishing intentional relationships where we walk together trying to help each other keep Christ and His work at the center of our lives.
I don’t know where you are, but I need to press the “go pedal” in some things. Pray that the Lord directs all that we do, that His Holy Spirit encourages us and reminds us that He is on the throne and empowers us to be about His work. Know that you are dearly loved and that I desire for us to be a community of faith who surrenders to Him, looks out for each other and goes out into the world.
Rev. Lynn Beach is married to his college sweetheart, Michelle, and they have two adorable daughters. He has been at Park Church since July 2013.