Pleasant Home UMC
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.
September through May
Sunday Service 11:00 a.m.
Hope you can join us!
From the Pastor’s Desk...
We read John 1:14 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.)” As I read this sentence I understand God’s love for the lost world through Jesus Christ. Jesus became a human like us so that we could relate to Him on a personal level and visa versa. In John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not parish, but have eternal life.” God wants to reconcile the broken relationship between us and God through Him. We would be lost without God in our lives. Thereby, God showed us His love when he sent His Son to identify with us, so now we can say with confidence that God understands our struggles, fear and worries.
However, too often we don’t realize this truth. For example, politicians travel around the United States during campaign season not only to speak to people but also try to relate to them. They go through a small farming town in Nebraska, a surfing village in Florida, and a small rainy town in Oregon. Politicians love to show how they can relate to the people in each area they visit. However, you and I know that they can’t relate to them on the same level; they can’t identify with them no matter how hard they try.
On the other hand, Jesus had never tried to appear that He understands what we’re going through in life because He identifies with us. Jesus related to the people then and He is relating to us today on a level that we can understand and appreciate. I am sure that at one point or another we’ve all said, “nobody understands my situation, and no one understands me.” If you are saying that now, let me tell you that Jesus understands your situation. He’s been there and He knows what we’re going through every day. Jesus was working as a carpenter; He had a mother, father, brothers, sister, friends, and enemies. He even faced the same temptations that you and I face every day, yet He never sinned. Jesus understands our struggles because He had faced the same challenges of life. If you are facing life challenges in this Advent season and you feel like nobody understands your situation, let us remember what Jesus has done for us. You may have heard the saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” As long as we do our part, by trusting God He will do His part. God understands everything we are dealing with in our daily lives, and He has promised to walk with us at every step. Let us not lose heart, because He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Emanuel, God with us understands our struggles and He can give us the strength to overcome anything we deal with in our daily lives.
Time and tide these days seem to be quickening the steps, and running faster. Though we may try to keep pace with them, we cannot.We are totally preoccupied with our daily responsibilities.
Moreover, every day we plan, prepare and carry on our regular as well as unexpected duties in our jobs and in our personal lives too. By the end of the day, we exhale to relieve stress and feel relaxed. We also desire to slow down and breath because it is one of the most pleasurable experience, we human beings treasure. It is not only a time to slow down and relax, but it is also a time to enjoy a moment of complete satisfaction and reflection on God’s grace in our lives. We also desire for a bit more of a breather in between our tight schedule.
Thanksgiving is a time to slow down from the fast paced world we live in. It is a time we group. reflect and relax. It is a time that we not only share a delicious meal with our loved ones, but we also express gratitude for God’s blessings in our lives. It is family time and families would gather and share stories. Thanksgiving is a wonderful day for everyone and what a blessing to have a day out of our so called busy lives to be thankful and grateful for God’s blessings. Sometimes those blessings come to us through our circle of friends, family members, co-workers, ministry partners or fellow church members, etc. These people are a part of who we are! Our lives would be far poorer without them.
However, frequently in our fast-pace lives, we neglect to tell them how much they mean to us. I wonder and ponder on whether we would take time to thank God and people around us if there is no fixed day to do this. Think about it because we are transforming and being transformed into automatons or cyborgs. We read in Proverbs 10:22 “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it.” God is the source of all our blessings. Sadly, amid our busy lives, we sometimes forget where it ultimately comes from. When I take a moment to slow down, here’s what I realize. I am grateful for God’s abundance showering on me. I am thankful for my wonderful family. I am thankful for all the people God has me surrounded with, and I am thankful for you.
Most of all I thank God for the assurance of the promises of an eternity in heaven. As you gather with family and friends and celebrate Thanksgiving, I encourage you to sow down and reflect on the many blessings that God has showered on you this past year. Thanksgiving is an opportunity for us to slow down, catch our breath and be thankful. What are you thankful for?
The heart is a muscle circulating blood in our body to keep us alive. Concurrently, the proper functioning of our spiritual heart fortifies our relationship with God and others. If the blood of Jesus flows in our hearts, then our thoughts, words and deeds will be transformed and we will glorify God in everything we do. The Bible says, God searches the heart and He knows what it is filled with. We read in the Psalm 139, “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit or stand. When far away, you know my every thought.”
Thereby, our physical and spiritual hearts are vitally important not only for our physical body but also for our spiritual life. Hence, we need to exercise our physical body and nourish our spirit by feeding on Scripture. We need to be more attuned to the Holy Spirit, If we don’t, the blood of Christ won’t flow through us and our bond with God will break. We read in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is the most deceitful thing there is, and it is desperately wicked.” Well, God knows what’s in our hearts. “He searches all hearts and examines the deepest motives so he can give to each person his right reward...” (Jeremiah 17:10).
As King David was a man after God’s own heart, God ordered Samuel to anoint him as the king of Israel. Samuel looked for a tall and strong man. But God chose David as 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “Don’t judge by a man’s face or height, for this is not the one. I don’t make decisions the way you do! Men judge by outward appearance, but I look at man’s thoughts and intentions.” God chose the least likely to be the king as he looked at the heart. By nature, man is evil and susceptible to temptations. David failed miserably falling for Bathsheba and paid for his sins of adultery and murder, but David’s prayer for forgiveness healed the broken bond with God. Too often, we struggle to live up to our commitment with God. Each of us must pray David’s prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:10-11).
Let us be earnestly concerned with both of our physical and spiritual hearts.
God bless you!
I was working out at the gym, and my working out partner named Lawrence said, “Working out is the best way to release stress.” I said, “Stress? What do you mean by stress? There is no such thing as stress!” He said, “Really? What do you mean by saying that there is no such thing as stress?” I said, “Stress is just a mindset which means, it comes when you set your mind on the problems rather than the solutions.” You know, we all face challenges in our lives whether we like it or not. The problem doesn’t care about how old you are, and how long you’ve been a Christian. They will sneak into your thought patterns and ruin your emotions. They may come through the actions of your children or co-workers. They may come at times that you don’t expect them. They may come suddenly; they may come when someone says something bad about you. They may come in different shapes or forms. However, Jesus Christ has given us the power through His presence and His Word to fight against the oppositions. We read in John 15:7 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you.”
The Word of God gives us instructions on how we should face challenges. Someone said that the meaning of the B.I.B.L.E. is; “Basic, Instruction, Before, Leaving, Earth.” Thereby, we must read it and meditate on it day and night. We must allow the Word to saturate our minds and hearts. We must allow the Word to persuade us and we must convince that His Word is true. When we are convicted that His Word is true and believe in it with all our hearts, God will guide us and we will hear His voice clearly. God will speak to your mountains; God will speak to your insecurity and His Word will speak to your circumstances. We will respond to the challenges differently when we put our faith in God and trust in His promises. We can all say that God is powerful enough to deliver us. The Word tells us that all things will work out for good to those who love Him. You can do all things through Him who gives you strength. Believe in it, trust in it and live it. Our God is more powerful, and He is our liberator. Hallelujah!
We often sing “Jesus Loves Me This I Know” in our family prayers and the kids learn this song since they were little. Most of us are familiar with this song and it is a wonderful song to know. It reminds us of God’s love when we sing “Jesus loves me.” However, when it comes to the part ‘Yes, I know.” I am not sure if this is true to most of us because God’s love is unconditional! Whereas, our love is conditional. Jesus says, if you love Me, Keep My commandments.” There are many commandments in the Bible but Jesus tells us to keep these two commandments, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And the second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
Frankly, we all fall short of the glory of God at times because our love is based on emotions and feelings etc. This is why we disappoint God, but He still loves us. We don’t listen to God, but He still loves us. We are too busy spending time doing our own thing, but He still loves us. We ignore His instructions, but He still loves us. We gossip, lie, cheat, steal, fornicate, abuse our temples, but He still loves us. I can’t imagine anyone who could put up with us other than our Lord and Savior. So, God’s love is unconditional and we know nothing about God’s love. Too often we only sing those words (Jesus loves me, this I know), but we have no idea what it’s like to know how much God loves us. If we truly know those words “Yes I know” God’s love in our lives, then His presence should manifest in our hearts, souls (will, emotion and thought) and minds. Thereby, I’d like us to reflect on these questions: How is your heart? Is your heart right with God? Do you love God with your whole heart? How is your soul? Have you been able to obey every instruction in His word without feeling guilty or shame? Who controls your will or your daily decision? How about you mind? Is your mind completely transformed and renewed? How about the second commandment? “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” How are we doing with that? Frankly, this is a very difficult task for us to do, but everything is possible with God.
I’ve read so many resources that talk about love is an action word, but I disagree with it. We cannot love God with our whole hearts, soul and mind without God’s help. The answer is clearly stated on this text. Jesus says, “If you love Me, KEEP My commandments.” Did you notice? He didn’t command us to do something! He simply says, “Keep my commandments.” Are you tired of trying to love God and love your neighbor? The answer is simple, keep Jesus’ commandments in your heart, soul and mind. I believe this is the only way for us to truly know God’s love. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” John 15:4. When we abide in God, God’s love will manifest in our hearts, soul and mind. Then we can love God in return with our whole heart, soul and mind. And you can love your neighbor as yourself. Let us keep His commandments and abide in His love.
When I first arrived here in the USA, it was a journey not only of crossing a great distance but also of culture and life. At the outset, I felt like a fish thrown out of the water because of the differences of cultures. In the island of Tonga everything was easy and life was simple. Everyone had his/her own home and one didn’t have to make mortgage payments as we do here in the States. The people used to walk everywhere they wanted to go, and they didn’t have to rely on cars. Life was simple and we dealt with life situations as they came. Most people just went with the flow rather than setting goals and striving to accomplish certain tasks. For example, we would get up in the morning and someone would come into our house and say, “Hey, let’s go to beach and swim,” and we would go without any hesitance. We didn’t have a whole lot of specific tasks to follow as we do here in the States.
On the other hand, I’ve learned that life here in the USA is much more focused on specifics and goal oriented. People set goals and they try to accomplish them. They challenge themselves to achieve more in life which leads to an unfulfilled life. They end up doing whatever it takes to accomplish things, but often they never quite fulfill their God given purpose. They would end up doing something that they were not called to do. These people would achieve a lot, but they are not happy which leads them to addictions, depressions and sadly, some of them commit suicide. This constant pressure leads them to pursue an unfulfilled life. Secondly, some people would follow other people’s dreams and never really live their own dreams. They want to be just like the person next door or the singer they see on the TV and never live and follow their own purpose in life. They are living someone else’s dream which lead to an unfulfilled life. Thirdly, some people get distracted by their responsibilities and eventually they would give up and do whatever is necessary to survive. They are living for themselves because they are trying to accomplish their dreams. They are not bothered to follow the way of God because of their ignorance and the multiple worldly distractions.
Where is God’s purpose in our lives? Are we following God’s way? Are we doing God’s purpose in our church? Or, are we following other people’s advice? Are we just going with the flow? Where are we as a church? As I reflected on these questions, a verse came into my mind, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You” Isaiah 16:3. When we follow God’s ways, our minds are steadfast and firmly fixed on God’s purpose for our lives. When we do this, the Bible tells us that we are going to experience God’s peace. Thereby, we must learn to trust in God and follow His direction in our journey. Our minds are subject to change and we must be firm in our belief, and determined to fulfill God’s purpose. Why should we do this? I believe we should strive to have perfect peace in everything we do regardless of what comes in our way. When we are experiencing peace in our lives, it is a good sign that we are following God’s way. It comes when we learn to completely put our trust in God. The Book of James tells us that “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways” James 1:5. Thereby, we can’t go around in our lives as a man or woman of God with two minds. A steadfast mind is necessary in order to function in God’s perfect peace. We can have a steadfast mind if we keep our minds on God and His principles. As we continue our journey, we must learn to stay focused on following God’s ways in our lives. Hence, we can bring transformation into people’s lives here at our church. It will produce perfect peace, victory and bring fulfillment into our lives and help us to serve the purpose of God in our church.
From the Pastor’s Desk... As I was reflected on the importance of the role of fathers in a family, I think about how Jesus used to warn his disciples about the scribes and the Pharisees: “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.” Matthew 23: 3 This passage tells me about the importance of not only the fathers’ words but also our actions. Our words must meet the way we act in order to influence our children and leave a lasting legacy of our faith with them. Often times, we (fathers) forget that our children are not only listening to our words but also watching everything we do. Paul says to his spiritual children in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” If we want to leave a lasting legacy to our children, we(fathers) must live out our faith. Our role is important in our family and thus, our words must match our actions. We read in Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Too often, we forget the words our fathers had said to us but we remember their actions.
My father was the man of many words. He was a great public speaker and a lot of people had complemented about his ability to speak in public. They used to call him the Tongan dictionary because of his ability to pick the right words to convey his points. However, I am willing to bet that if I ask any of these people whether they remember any of his powerful speeches, most likely they won’t remember them. On the other hand, if I ask them whether they remember his actions perhaps, some of them may be able to describe about something that he had done. In addition, I remember more about his actions then what he used to say to me. I’ll share one example: many years I’ve always wondered why my Dad never go remarried. Well, his friends and colleagues were telling him to get remarried and have more kids, but he did not. He was young enough to get remarried, but he had chosen not to get remarried for many years. He never talked to me about why he had chosen not to get remarried, but I found out a couple of years after he died. Apparently, he didn’t want anybody to come into our family and mistreat me. This is just one example from many fond memories I have of him and his actions have embedded in my memory. He had sacrificed his own need for me so that I can have a better life. He was not only a provider for our family, but he made sure that I was safe emotionally and that’s how he showed his love for me. I believe we all want to leave a lasting
legacy with our children, and it takes sacrifice. We need to sacrifice our own need for the betterment of our children. Our children need to see our love through actions! I am also reminded of this truth, and I’m sure our children and spouses will appreciate it. It is a legacy that will outlast us.
There are three months out of the year that I take some time to reflect on the importance of relationships. During valentine day in February, I not only think about the importance of a covenant relationship between a husband and wife but also I think about various types of relationships. Another special day that I reflect about the importance of relationships is Mother’s Day. On this particular day, I think about the importance of the role of a mother in a family. It is a time we think about the importance of a mother and child relationships. Thirdly, when it is time for my anniversary, I reflect on my relationship with my wife. A wife’s role in a family is different from a mother’s role. However, I’d like to elaborate on the role of a mother in a family. Let me share what I’ve learned over the years about the role of a mother in a family. Although I did not grow up with my biological mother, God has blessed me with a wonderful person who gave me all the love that I needed when I was a child. So, whether you are adopted or growing up with biological parents, God has blessed most of us in this way.
As I reflected about mother’s day, here are the things that comes into my mind: A mother does not feel tired when she hears her child crying in the middle of the night; when I am sad and couldn’t go to sleep, she would comfort me with her presence; when I am hungry even in the middle of the night, she would get up and make me food; she makes sure that I am warm in those cold nights; she makes sure that I am well taking care of and she would protect me; she makes sure that I have nice clothes to wear to school; she does laundry, fix breakfast, lunch and dinner when she’s at home; when I am scared in the middle of night, she would hug me and make me feel at ease; when other people put me down, she would tell me how smart I am and give me words of encouragement; when someone hurts me, she would make sure that I feel love; when I am lonely, she would comfort me; a mother would go an extra mile to show you her love.
A mother’s love describes how much God loves us! God is longing for us to know how much He loves us. In every moment, God wants to comfort us, and provides a way for us to have a better life. God comforts us when we are feeling down; God works tirelessly to make sure that we know about His love. A mother’s love is indescribable! A mother wants the best for their children and all they want is a little bit of love in return. A healthy mother wants nothing from her kid/s other than to love her back. On the other hand, God’s love is unconditional. God doesn’t want anything from us other than to love Him back. However, too often we forget a mother’s love because we get distracted by our own goals and dreams. Well, God feels the same way when we don’t consider His guidance in our lives. God wants us to remember that He is the source of all good things and He wants to be a part of our lives.
God is the source of our joy, peace and love etc. God has blessed us in so many ways. God has provided for us resources to make a living over the years and He has been taking care us. However, we forget that in order to develop a relationship, we must love God in return. Relationships are not one sided, it is not just God loving us, but we must love Him in return to complete and define a good relationship. “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15 God will never forget His own. Let us rejoice by singing this song: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” God loves you always and what a wonderful song to remember and keep in our heart.
Roger Simms was trying to get home after being discharged from the army on May 7th. Roger was eager to get home right away not only to see his family but also due to his suitcase that was too heavy for the journey. He wanted to get home and have some rest. Finally, he saw a light flashing on his way and it was a brand new Cadillac. He lost all hope because he never thought someone who drives a Cadillac would stop for a hitchhiker. However, the Cadillac stopped and the driver was Mr. Hanover, a business owner on his way to Chicago.
Mr. Hanover: “Going home for keeps?”
Roger: “Sure am.”
Mr. Hanover: “Well, you’re in luck if you’re going to
Roger: “Not quite that far. Do you live in Chicago?
Mr. Hanover: “I have a business there. My name is
As they continued towards Chicago, Roger felt God urging him to share his faith with Mr. Hanover. However,he did not want to offend the business man, because he was afraid that the business man might kick him out of the car. When they were close to his home, Roger finally decided to share his faith.
“Mr. Hanover, I would like to talk to you about something very important.” Roger said.
He explained to him about the way of salvation and he asked Mr. Hanover if he would like to receive Christ as his Lord and Savior. To his amazement, Mr. Hanover pulled over to the side of the road, bowed his head and received Christ into his life.
He said, “This the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.”
Shortly afterwards, he dropped Roger at his house and he continued on his journey to Chicago which was about another hours drive. Five years later, while preparing for a business trip to Chicago, Roger came across the gold-embossed business card Mr. Hanover had given him. When he arrived in Chicago he decided to look up Hanover Enterprises and found it
to be located in a skyscraper downtown. When he asked the receptionist if he could see Mt. Hanover, she said: “No, but his wife is here.”
“You knew my husband?” the woman in her 50’s asked.
Roger explained that her husband had given him a ride and how he’d led him to Christ.”Mr. Hanover, I explained the gospel. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day.”
“Can you tell when that was?” She asked.
“It was May 7th, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army.”
She began to sob. After several minutes she regained control and said, “I prayed for my husband’s salvation for years, believing God would save him. But right after he left you out of his car, on May 7th, he was killed in a head-on collision. I thought God had not answered my
prayer, and I stopped living for Him five years ago.” That day she recommitted her life to Christ.
Christians have a duty to share what they receive from Christ for free and that’s what Roger did. He led a soul to the kingdom of God. Have we done our bounded duty to our Lord? Easter is a good reminder for us Christians not only to live our faith, but also to share it with others.
Share your faith—-somebody needs it!
The devil is sneaky and the Bible warns us that the devil comes to kill, destroy and steal. People go through life challenges and often times they question whether God is powerful enough to resolve those challenges or not. They begin to doubt whether God understands their situation or He’s too busy. Perhaps, you are dealing with so many challenges and issues in your personal life and it seems as if God is nowhere to be found. Hence, you begin to doubt your faith in God as if you’ve done something wrong and God is punishing you. Let me give one answer, these situations are not from God. Satan’s priority is to disturb your joy so that you can blame God. If Satan can take away your joy, there will be no love, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, peace, and gentleness. Thereby, our battle in life begins with joy because without it, we are doomed. Joy is the highest achievement one must attain.
Jean (made up name for the sake of privacy) has been a very troubled person since she was young. She thought that happiness comes from beating up people and robbing them. Jean appeared to be a very strong person on the outside and oftentimes people used to be intimidated by her everywhere she went. Although my wife and I knew about her troubled behaviors, we helped her and her family when times were difficult for her. We supported her when she lost one of her children; we visited her when she was in jail, we invited her and her family to our home when they didn’t have a place to stay etc. So, she became very close to us.
Unfortunately, Jean and her sister beat up a security guard and she had to spent a couple of months in jail. She came out of jail and my wife and I decided to visit her on Valentine’s day. She has been attending counseling sessions and some other meetings. To say the least, I was shocked when I saw her on Valentine’s Day because she was not the same person. She used to say bad things about herself and other people all the time, but she didn’t do that on that day. In fact, here is what she said: “I have been living a lie. I have been lying to myself because I did everything just to make my parents happy, and my life was miserable. I’ve realized that they will never be happy no matter what I do.” She continues “Now, I don’t want to live that kind of life. I want to have joy and not all this short term happiness just to make my parents happy.” Apparently, she had to make her parents happy and whatever she did was not good enough and to escape criticism and contempt from her parents, violence became her tool to experience joy.
Happiness is an emotion; it is a feeling one gets when things are going their way, and it comes and goes. Joy on the other hand is a God given gift and it can only be found when we have a relationship with God. This truth is revealed when we know that God loves us. We don’t need other people’s opinion to experience joy. God has freely given joy to us through Jesus Christ and no one can take that away from us. We read in John 15:9-11 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Live within my love. When you obey me you are living in my love, just as I obey my Father and live in his love. I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your cup of joy will overflow!”