A Special Tribute

 “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

A few of you met her once or twice, some of you have heard about her, and many of you prayed for her. Terry Boucher’s mom, Angeline (Hafner) Sorbo, passed away Monday, November 26th, around 1:30 in the afternoon. Two of her daughters, who were able to make it to the hospital quickly, were singing to her at her bedside. Angie went to be with Jesus hearing the hymn, “It is Well with My Soul.” What a beautiful song to usher Mom into the presence of the One she loved and served! As a son-in-law there are so many wonderful memories I could share about her. One that stands out to me is when Terry and I were dating, and I had a chance to visit her mom and dad at their house. Mom and I were talking in the kitchen and I dared to venture the question, “Do you think I’m the right one for your daughter?” She looked straight at me and said, “Yes, I think you are.” After being married to Angie’s daughter for over 40 years, I look back with great appreciation for her “vote of confidence.” Also, I am so grateful to Mom for the godly qualities she helped develop in her beautiful daughter, Terry. Mom loved Jesus and centered her life around prayer and worship. She also loved people and made time to talk and pray with anyone who sought her counsel. In a day when “in-laws” get a bad rap, I can say that God blessed me with the best mother-in-law I could ever imagine. At her bedside last week, I read from the Word of God in Psalm 37. Verse four says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This was Mom’s favorite verse, and it helped her focus on what really matters—especially in times of stress and difficulty. The world will hardly notice the passing of this 84-year-old woman. She was not famous, didn’t have a lot of money, wrote no books, and held no important titles. Yet, for us who knew her, her impact will always be deep and profound. She was a woman who feared the Lord and…she will be praised! Thank you, Mom, for showing us Jesus!

Pastor Mark Boucher

Truth That Renews!

It has taken me a while, but I’ve learned something about myself. When I look at life as merely a lot of tasks and goals to accomplish, something deep inside of me starts to shrivel up. Focusing on just the work—even good work—causes my soul to feel dry and empty. Then, as I go to prayer and consider the Word of God, the Lord reminds me again about what is most important—truth that renews and rejuvenates my spiritual health. I was reading one such reminder yesterday from Ephesians 5:1-2: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” So, we are called to be “imitators” of God! The Greek word for imitate is where we get “mimic” from. As God is and does, so we are to follow His example. Of course, there is much about God that only He can do. I can’t know everything or have inexhaustible power. However, I can do what God has called me to do…through Christ. I am most fulfilled in life when I love others and do my daily work in the love of Jesus. Love is a simple concept to hear, but so elusive to live in the context of everyday interactions with people. These verses in Ephesians reveal this about love:  We can love because we are loved! God commands us to love, knowing that we can do this by first realizing how much He loves us. If I just try to love others in my own limited strength, I quickly give up if I don’t see or feel love being returned to me. But, if I am secure in knowing that I am loved unconditionally by the Father, the oversights and even rejections of others do not derail me. I can still experience a life a love because the Lord (not other people) is the One who replenishes my “supply” of love. So, we are to live a life of love “just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (v. 2). A quick read of 1 Corinthians 13 also reminds us that our best efforts without love amount to a big zero with God. As we work and journey through the holiday season, adding tasks and goals to our sometimes already crowded schedules, let’s remember the greatest thing. Know that Jesus loves you, and that you can love because you are loved!

Pastor Mark Boucher

Overcoming Spiritual Gravity

The famous 19th-century preacher, Charles Spurgeon, once said, “We are too prone to engrave our trials in marble and write our blessings in sand.” This Thursday, November 22, we get to celebrate a day declared as “Thanksgiving.” Of all the special days of the year, Thanksgiving is in the top three of my favorites (right behind Easter and Christmas). As we do a mental review of our lives, it’s easy to obsess and complain about what we don’t like. Karen Carpenter (a singer back in the 1970s) sang a hit song entitled, “Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down.” Life’s trials can feel like “spiritual gravity”—trying to keep us pressed down and feeling defeated. And then comes the Word of God! If you take some time in Psalms, you quickly discover how God’s people rose above the “gravity” of inconsistencies and the seeming unfairness of life. They made a choice, saying, “I will praise the Lord and be grateful!” Psalm 107 begins the last “book” of Psalms (which is divided into five books). This last section is all about praising the Lord, the true hero of life, who gives us himself and provides us with all we need.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).

Many of the previous psalms express lament and grief—expressions of honest hearts. However, this fifth and last section, Psalms 107 to 150, ascends into a magnificent crescendo of worship. Here’s a reminder: Even though we go through hard times, in the end we can rise above our problems and find our joy in the Lord. We give thanks to our Lord because of His love which endures forever. This Hebrew word love describes God’s never-ending riches of His daily mercy and kindness. If you woke up today and realized that the Lord is in your life, you have reason for thanks-giving! So, when tempted to “stay down,” hold your tongue, and instead, praise the Lord for His amazing grace. Happy Thanksgiving!

Pastor Mark Boucher

Prepared!

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15).

It’s a great feeling to be prepared. When I prepare my heart and mind to preach the Word, I am excited to bring the message. When I am doing a project that requires tools and I have all I need, I look forward to the work. What about being prepared every day to share the hope of Christ with people? Are we prepared? Opportunities to share Christ don’t come with an announcement like, “Get ready. Someone with a need is coming to talk to you, and you need to point them to Christ.” God’s Word through Peter helps us to make the most of daily opportunities. Peter first stresses the need for us to “honor Christ the Lord as holy.” Being prepared begins with our walk with Jesus…how we love Him and talk to Him in our hearts. Witnessing doesn’t start with “knowing five steps to convince someone.” It begins with our relationship with the Lord himself. As we walk in His Spirit, people will come across our path, and the Lord will nudge us to share with them the hope we have been given. The other day I got a haircut, and the barber and I were the only ones in his shop. We started talking about life and the importance of good values. He asked me questions, and it was a joy to point him to the Lord Jesus as the source of wisdom, peace, and hope. After the barber cut my hair, I asked him if I could pray for him and he agreed. We bowed our heads, and I prayed for him to get to know Jesus and experience His presence! As I left the shop, I remembered praying in my devotions earlier that morning that the Lord would open doors for me to share Jesus. I thanked the Lord for answering prayer! A major part of being prepared is simply praying that we would be ready to see the opportunities when they come. I confess that I have missed many of these opportunities, but I know that the Lord is merciful and helps me be more sensitive as I walk with Him each day. And, Peter tells us one last thing about being prepared. Make sure you share “with gentleness and respect.” If we come across as “above others” or “knowing it all,” people will react to our pride and will miss the message. The truth is that we who witness are just as needy of the grace of God as the one with whom we share. May the Lord prepare us today to always be prepared to be His witnesses.

Pastor Mark Boucher

What Are We Afraid Of?

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).

There is healthy fear and unhealthy fear. I remember one day standing on the edge of a cliff hundreds of feet high and feeling the wind blowing hard around me. A wave of fear swept over me and I stepped back away from the edge. This was healthy fear! The Bible speaks of fear many times as something good. For example, Proverbs 19:23 declares, “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied.” Fearing God through reverence and worship is critical to our growth and blessing. However, we also need to be aware of the effects of unhealthy fear. Many people avoid seeking or encountering the Holy Spirit, as if he were some Halloween figure. Why is this? Some answers I have heard go like this: “The Holy Spirit may ask me to do something I don’t want to do,” or “I’m afraid of releasing control of myself to anyone or anything,” or “The Holy Spirit might embarrass me in front of my friends.” The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to his son in the faith, Timothy. From the letter we discern that Timothy struggled with timidity and fear. But, Paul encouraged Timothy by reminding him of what the Holy Spirit is about, and what the Spirit deposits into our spirit. He is not the author of unhealthy fear! The Spirit is the one who desires to fill us with the wonderful fruit of power, love, and self-control. Through the Holy Spirit, the power that controlled Jesus as He lived and rose triumphantly from the grave dwells in us! Don’t let “I was afraid” be the excuse you give to God for not letting Him give you all you need to live full and fruitful. Pray today (as I do) and say, “Lord, fill me with the Holy Spirit right now. Help me to depend on You and not to make any decisions outside of Your will. Use my life as a witness that Jesus is alive!” Don’t be afraid of the Holy Spirit. He knows what is best for you…and he knows what he is doing!

Pastor Mark Boucher