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The Sermon and The Shack 

I grew up not liking church much. It was like brushing my teeth - it kept my parents happy, but otherwise seemed like a waste of time. 

Now I see it as the most important organization on the planet. I agree with Pastor Hybels, the local church is the hope of the world. Sunday I’ll let you know what changed my mind. Oh – I agree with my parents about brushing teeth now too. 

On another topic, The Shack movie is out this week playing at UA Cottonwood, Century Rio 24 and Premiere Rio Rancho. I read the book after it came out, almost ten years ago, but have not seen the movie. The book sold over ten million copies in its first couple years, so it struck a nerve. The author was sexually abused as a missionary kid, and wrote the book to help explain how God might be good all the time, all powerful, and yet allow evil to happen. When the book came out, some saw it as helpful, others as a step below the Satanic Bible.  

The best balanced review of the book and the movie I’ve read is by David Mathis of You can read his review here. If this topic is important to you, and/or one you struggle with, you might ask Pastor Reinaldo for his notes and recommended books, as he has been teaching through it in his Apologetics class at APU. 

If you see the movie, let me know what you thought! Just remember, The Shack wasn’t the Bible, it was a step away, one author’s ideas trying to explain Biblical truth. And, the movie is a step away from the book that was already a step away from the Bible.  

God bless, hope to see you Sunday! 


I don’t like this Heart Attitude.

It’s the word "ministry" I don’t like. It’s one of those words we almost exclusively use at church.

What does it mean to "participate in ministry?" Do I have to preach? Go to Haiti? Teach kids? Please Lord, no all-nighters with the youth group – it would be easier to give 10%.

According to my online English dictionary, the word "ministry" means "the act of serving." My Greek dictionary tells me the Biblical word translated "minister, deacon," and "serve" are often the same root word. So, ministry is serving. Let’s change this heart attitude.

I Will Serve. Much better. A simple Heart Attitude for a simple mind. You can serve here as well as in Haiti. You can serve with time as well as with money. You can serve with your actions before your sermons. You can serve in church, home, school, etc. That, in fact, is why God has you here.

You can serve here in ways you can’t serve in Heaven.

You see, Jesus didn’t die just to remove our sins and bring us to Heaven. Titus 2:14 says, "He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds." (NLT)  

Jesus died to free us from our sins and to empower us to serve Him. Noah built a boat, Paul started churches, Barnabas encouraged others, Jonah learned to swim, and Ezra built a church. What does God have for you to do?

See you Sunday

Bulletin Verse: Titus 2:14 says, "He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds." (NLT)  



I was in 6th grade Spanish class, with Mrs. Z presiding. She wasn’t someone to be trifled with. A friend and I got talking – and became so engrossed in our conversation that we didn’t notice when Mrs. Z stopped teaching. Or when she waited for us to get quiet. Or when she called on us to answer a question. Or when she waited again. Or when she walked down the row of desks to right where we were at the back of the room. Or when she stood over us and waited yet again.

Suddenly we both noticed the shaking shadow leaning over our desks. With terror we looked up into her red face with pulsing veins protruding as she shouted, "IF IT WASN’T AGAINST THE…"

I think she was telling the truth.

Thankfully, Arizona had strict laws against killing 11-year-olds, so instead we ended up in the principal’s office.

He wasn’t nearly as scary as Mrs. Z.

A couple years later I got my first job delivering the early morning Arizona Republic newspaper. Mrs. Z was on my route. Delivering to her house before 5am, and having to collect money at her door, I learned something about her life. Married to an alcoholic, I’d often see her asleep in a chair or sofa as I dropped off the paper on the front porch. When collecting I’d actually pray to meet her at the door, rather than him.

Sometimes it’s hard to forgive. Sometimes it’s harder to ask for forgiveness. Sometimes knowing the whole story helps.

I like the way Paul put it in Romans 12:17-18. Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.  Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. NLT   

See you Sunday!





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There was a revival – I think it was in Tibet. Empower Ministries was there, and I remember asking their president, Ron Pierce what their ministry needed. "Elephants -- to get the gospel out, we need more elephants."

In 2003, when our troops went into Iraq, Samaritans Purse followed and handed out shoeboxes like we supply at Christmas. This was planned in the months leading up to the invasion, but Franklin Graham knew the shoeboxes themselves needed to be followed up by a personal witness. So, he contacted Ron, and Empower Ministries trained Arab believers in neighboring countries to follow the shoeboxes with the message of Christ.

Ron will be here THIS COMING SUNDAY, February 12, speaking at our 10am service, and doing a Q & A at 6pm in our Worship Center. He’s a fantastic story teller, his stories make you jealous for what God is doing around the world, giving a fresh desire to see God work in powerful ways here.

I got to know Ron in Canada, and have always wanted to bring him here, but Cottonwood just seemed too small to pull it off. But, now that we have merged, this opportunity opened. You can check out his ministry here.

Come Sunday morning, and if Ron is anything like I remember, you will want to be there Sunday night.



Rev 5:9 (NIV2011)  And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10  You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."


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Humbly Give and Receive Spiritual Correction


What’s more difficult for you – to give correction - or to take it? 

Aaron is speaking with me this week, here is what he wrote about giving correction. . .   

"My wife likes to call me ‘Actually’ as a nickname. Why? Because I have this bad habit of correcting people on matters of fact, grammar, trivia, etc. These corrections usually start with me saying, ‘Actually…’ hence the nickname. Some of my favorite things to catch people on include:

         Saying ‘good’ when they mean ‘well’

         Correcting pronunciation

         Any historical fact, ever

         And pretty much anything else anyone says or does wrong when they are around me.

Annoying, right? It turns out that giving correction is not as easy as it seems. There are right and wrong times to correct someone. There are right and wrong ways to do it. Sometimes it is desperately needed, and other times it is quite inappropriate. Who knew? 

The same goes for giving scriptural correction. As Christians, we are called to keep each other accountable, but what does this look like? When is the right time? What are the right words? What areas warrant scriptural correction in the first place?"   

Of course, taking correction isn’t easy either, with right and wrong ways to take it, as well. As Aaron would say, "Who knew?" Join us this Sunday as we tackle Heart Attitude number three, "I will humbly give and receive scriptural correction." See you there!"