My Final Blog for Evergreen SGV    

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“Wisdom is with aged men,
with long life is understanding.” 
Job 12:12

 

Please remember: 

Faith and Family First.

The Bible is trustworthy and without error.

God always answers prayer.

Love God, Love Others. Make a difference. 

We are blessed to be a blessing.

We cannot out-give God.

God measures success by the yardstick of faithfulness. 

God loves you and so do I.

 

Some things to think about…

The Three R’s of a Life Committed to Christ

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“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’” Matthew 25:21a

As I enter the final twelve days of my tenure as Senior Pastor of Evergreen SGV, I have been reflecting two things: God’s goodness over the past forty-two years and my role in God’s plan. I firmly believe that God had a plan and I was a part of His plan for Evergreen from the very beginning to the very end. 

It’s been interesting that in the past few days I have read different versions of the same theme regarding a retrospective view of one’s life. I have no idea who to credit for this sage advice, but I read about the final epitaph of a missionary who was to be martyred. Most recently, I read it in an article by Dr. Steven C. Riser, retired Senior Pastor of New Beginning EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian Church).

Here’s what one martyred believer wrote, No Reserves, No Retreats, No Regrets. 

No Reserves.

We should be willing to give our all to Jesus. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” This verse calls us to offer our entire body as a living sacrifice to God. We should allow the Lord to use us in any way He sees fit. Our willingness becomes our willing sacrifice to Him.

No Retreats.

We should be willing to always press on for the sake of Christ. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” 

The world and life itself is filled with distractions, discouragements and discontentment. The world is a noisy place to live. It is easy to revoke our sacrificial living for the sake of ease. The way to “press on” is to “press into” Jesus. His resurrection power will sustain us.

No Regrets.

In last week’s blog, I shared about finishing the race from 2 Timothy 4:7 where Paul stated, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith…” Finishing a marathon has its rewards whether the runner finished first or last. For most runners, just completing the course well is reward enough.

In my opinion, finishing with no regrets is an important ingredient to a life lived well for Christ. To be sure, there will be some regrets. But, trying to wholeheartedly live and serve as Jesus would want us live and serve has its own reward… the voice of the Lord saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21.

So may we live a life of No Reserve, No Retreat and No Regret.

Something to think about…

A LIFE VERSE FROM THE LORD

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“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:3 

Over the past four decades, a particular verse has been shared with me by different members within the Body of Christ known as Evergreen. The verse is Psalm 1:3, which is an incredibly encouraging passage of scripture.

More recently, one of our church members, Itsuko Teragawa, shared Psalm 1:3 with me and said it was God’s verse for me. This time, her words caused the verse to have a greater impact on me. I wondered about it and asked the Lord to help me understand what it meant.

Some time later, while attending the Evergreen SGV House of Prayer (EHOP), the Lord spoke to me and said that Psalm 1:3 was my life verse for ministry from Him. In other words, I had a life verse from the Lord even though I was totally unaware of it. 

A closer look at the verse revealed that three things happen to someone who is like a tree firmly planted beside streams of water. First, they will yield fruit. Second, they will not wither. And third, they will prosper in whatever they do.

This has been the story of our church over the past 42 years. We have yielded fruit, not withered and have prospered in whatever we have done. To God be the glory! 

If we take a closer look at the context of Psalm 1:3, we find in verses 1 and 2, the reasons for the blessings of verse 3. 

Psalm 1:1-2 says, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.”

A tree or person gets firmly planted beside streams of water when three things are happening in their lives. First, they do not listen to worldly counsel that contradicts God’s Word. Second, they delight or love the Word of God. Third, they meditate and assimilate God’s Word on a consistent basis. The net result of doing the above is then described in verse 3.

In many ways, I am glad that I did not know that this was God’s life verse for me in ministry. However, I am also thankful that for the entirety of my 42 years of service, I have always tried to love, assimilate and do God’s Word.

As a result, God has blessed me and our church family over the years by allowing us to bear fruit, to keep from withering and to see God prosper us in ways that only He could. 

In the final analysis, I am grateful to God for the things He has done. His mercies and lovingkindness have abounded in my life and the life of our church family. Hallelujah!

Blessings,
Pastor Cory, d.v.

 

 

The Things That Make Me Cry  

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“Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.” Psalm 126:5

For decades I hardly ever cried. It was a learned behavior of indifference to things that really mattered and deserved tears to be shed. I failed to cry at the passing of my father. I would almost never cry at sad movies and when I did, I would do my best to refrain and/or hide it from others.

I remember crying at the closing scene of Westside Story. It was 1961 and I was fourteen years old. I decided to never cry because of a movie again. Then, in 1989, it happened again and my attitude was very different. I decided to find out why I cried and it began my father journey, which had a significant impact on my life. But that’s another story for another time.

Today, every once in a while, I cry over stories I read in Sports Illustrated. I have discovered a common theme in those stories. 

I am going to give you an example from the December 2018 issue, which I just read. The piece is entitled, “Everyday Heroes”, which recounts a story about the travails of the Paradise High School that was severely damaged during the November Camp Fire. The fire took the homes of 196 or the 200 athletes at the school. When they resumed competition the following took place.

“Paradise midfielder Gabe Price is also one of the area’s top cross-country runners. He missed the qualifying race for the state meet on November 8 because he was grabbing what he could from his home before it burned down. But Stearns made some calls and got permission for Price to run the course at West Valley High by himself a few days later to try to qualify.

To Gabe’s surprise, several of the West Valley runners showed up to pace him, invaluable support on a hilly, fairly unfamiliar course. Price finished in 17:12, nearly 30 seconds faster than the minimum time required. He was a grateful for West Valley’s assistance as he was for the jersey’s and shin guards Andersen High had donated to his soccer team. ‘The kindness and understanding… it’s been amazing to know that our opponents don’t see us as just another team to beat.’” 

I read this and I cried. I think I cry over stories of ‘everyday heroes’, people who serve others with no expectation of something in return. It is a story that reminds me of Jesus and how Jesus wants us to live our lives. 

As the preeminent example, Jesus said, “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28. Jesus’s death on the cross is the greatest example of serving others via the ultimate price that anyone could every pay.

May we should be just like Jesus and may the example of others bring a tear to your eyes.

Something to think about…