Weekly Letter from the Pastor — February 12, 2017

Dear FBCD Family:

On Sunday we explored how both Jesus and Paul prayed. As your pastor, I was brought up short by the challenge that Matthew 6:7-13 and Philippians 1:9-11 carried for me. That is one of the most amazing things about being a pastor — first you are challenged by God's Word and Spirit, and then out of that place of challenge you attempt to offer what you have been shown to the people you serve.

What I feel like I was shown — most starkly — is what old-timers would have called a "Godward Life." Jesus teaches us to pray in such a way that our needs come last, not first. Our first petitions are for God's name to be hallowed, God's kingdom to come, and God's will to be done on earth as in heaven. And the last words of the traditional Lord's Prayer again turn attention to "the kingdom, power, and glory" of God. It's not about us, it's about God.

And then Paul prays that his flock would be filled with love, able to discern what is best, producing a harvest of righteousness/justice, through Christ and for the praise and glory of God. Any good fruit in our lives is for God, from God, and returned back to God. Any praise we receive on that Day, belongs ultimately to God.

Fallen human nature is deeply self-centered. Part of the redemption process is the deep challenge to move from a focus on self to a focus on others and ultimately on the God who made us, sustains us, redeems us, and will meet us on the Day when we go to him.

One reason to commit to church is to be in a community straining every effort to live that kind of Godward life. It doesn't come naturally. But it does come more easily when we have friends around us who are also committed to that kind of life.

Brothers and sisters, life is hard. It seems that all times there are some in our congregation who walk in "the valley of the shadow of death" -- whether physical, relational, emotional, or spiritual. It is in times of such challenge that our faith, and faithfulness, are most tested. Let us support one another. Let us challenge one another. Let us love one another.

Have a wonderful week, dear friends.

Pastor David