When We Say What We Don’t Mean

Peter had a lot to learn about Jesus. In the early days, when Peter first met Jesus, he learned a lesson he would never forget. From Luke chapter 5, we see Peter the fisherman surrounded by his fellow workers. Peter owns a boat, which he gladly loans to his new acquaintance, Jesus. After Jesus taught the people from the boat (due to the crowd size), He said to Peter, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4). Consider the irony here…. Peter is an experienced fisherman, probably for most of his life. Jesus, at this time, is considered a prophet and teacher…still a mystery to the people. So, Peter politely responds to Jesus’ instructions, while voicing his own “expert” opinion, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (v. 5). Peter expects nothing more than what he already experienced. This half-hearted response from the tired fisherman is the best Peter can muster. He is in for the surprise of his life! The Bible says, “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break” (v. 6). Instead of being overjoyed, Peter is embarrassed. “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’” (v. 8). Peter says what he feels here, not what he means exactly. He doesn’t really want Jesus to leave him, but Peter is ashamed of himself. Here are my major “takeaways” from this amazing event. First, Jesus is the expert—no matter the work or the field. He is not just Lord over “spiritual” things; He is Lord of all! Also, I see here that Jesus doesn’t spare us from hard labor and even lack of results. The world is still the world, and making a living will still have times of pain and feelings of futility. Last, I see in this story that we can always trust Jesus and what He says. If we simply obey His Word, good results will come in His time and in His way. Keep faithful! He has some surprises ahead for you!

Pastor Mark Boucher

Together Always!

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:4-5).

These words from the Apostle Paul challenge us to live with Christ in us and through us. When we face trials of various kinds, our faith can rise to the occasion. We can look at each test as an opportunity to be like Jesus—to think like Jesus, to act like Jesus, and to develop the same attitude of Jesus. Since March, we have cooperated with our state and local government and community by not meeting in person. However, the church has not stopped ministry! It just looks different right now. I commend you for being so patient and kind. We have never gone through anything like this before, and you have stepped up to the challenge! As you know, our online service is offered each week, and the stats show us that more people are attending these services than were attending the in-person services. This doesn’t mean we don’t want to get back together! Your deacons have spent many extra hours in meetings—praying and discussing what we feel would be the best for our churches. We have sought the Lord’s guidance and read the latest up-to-date information on “best practices” and the “new normal.” We are attempting to hear from God and not be led by a spirit of fear. Some in our leadership team work in the medical field and are able to give us firsthand accounts of issues surrounding COVID-19. With a united heart, we feel the best decision for us is to start in-person services in July. The date we picked is Sunday, July 19. For some of you, this may seem too slow. Others think July 19 is too soon. My prayer is that we would adopt the attitude of the Lord and ask ourselves the question, “Can I consider not only myself, but also what is the best for others?” If we are going too slow for some, please consider that our motive is the safety and protection of people in our church families. If you think we are going too fast, please pray for God’s guidance. Also, please know that if you are not comfortable coming back right away, we completely understand. We are taking time and spending money right now so we can “live stream” the services on Sunday mornings. If you are at home and join us live, that would be wonderful! If you can’t watch the live stream service, it still will be recorded so you can watch it later in the day or week. Whatever your thoughts in this process, thank you for your patience and love for others. We encourage you to continue connecting with others. We encourage you to reach out to the church leadership for help and prayer (as many have done). This pandemic looks like it is subsiding, and we praise God for this good trend. When we open the doors, there will be guidelines to follow for everyone’s safety. You may feel that you don’t need to follow these in your personal life, but we ask that you cooperate in the spirit of Jesus for the benefit of others. It’s about Jesus and serving others. He keeps us staying together always!

Pastor Mark Boucher

Sometimes It Takes a Miracle!

Jesus performed many great miracles in His ministry. These works of power helped people believe in Him as God’s chosen Messiah. Most of His miracles demonstrated His love and power in healing suffering and pain. However, while reading my devotions yesterday, I came across a “special” miracle which occurred only once in the whole Bible. Here it is: “After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, ‘Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?’ ‘Yes, he does,’ he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. ‘What do you think, Simon?’ he asked. ‘From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?’ ‘From others,’ Peter answered. ‘Then the children are exempt,’ Jesus said to him. ‘But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours’” (Matthew 17:24-27). In all the history of fishing, if a fisherman pulled up a fish and discovered a coin inside its mouth, that would be quite surprising—but not necessarily a miracle. However, what if the fisherman were given these specific details: “Go to the nearby lake, catch the first fish, look in its mouth, find a coin, and pay the exact amount for the tax”? What is the “chance” of that randomly happening? This miracle of Jesus does not reverse or supersede nature; it demonstrates the unlimited knowledge of Jesus and His ability to work together divine timing with the actions of a fish!

This past Wednesday, I was in the sanctuary praying, when a powerful storm swept through the area. Once it was over, I didn’t think much about it until I got a call from my friend Mike at the Carpenters’ Union next door. He told me to take a look at the church chimney (smokestack) located right next to their building. This huge, heavy, thick iron chimney (about 40 feet high) was blown off its hinges and was tilted dangerously toward the church like the leaning tower of Pisa! Not only that, but the bottom, which had broken off, was right next to the wall of the union building. My first prayer was, “Lord, please don’t let it fall any farther!” If it had completely collapsed, it would have crashed through the roof of the church, and the lower end would have damaged the union building. After I was sure that the chimney had stopped moving, I went up on the roof to take a closer look and take some pictures. To my amazement, the present safety bars were still holding the chimney from a total fall…and the bottom was only inches away from the wall of the carpenters’ building. There had been no damage. Now, how to get this fixed? Mike, from the carpenters’ hall volunteered to look for a company to assess the job. This special project would need a high crane and would cost thousands of dollars. The next day, Mike called me to say he had found a company that would do all the work for free!

Now, this whole event may not seem like a miracle compared to say—raising the dead, but, as we have seen with the fish and the coins, the Lord knows how to work together all things: wind, chimney, broken bolts, church roof, and neighbors’ walls. Added to all this, the Lord gave us favor to freely receive the help we needed to correct the issue. Our God is good, and His miracles are disguised in many shapes and sizes!

Pastor Mark Boucher

Watch Your Words!

Everyone has an opinion. The problem is that we easily spout off our opinions—only to regret later that we spoke mostly out of ignorance or anger. James warns us that our words can be set on fire by hell. That is why it’s so important that our opinions are spoken with the wisdom of God…which is often manifested in restraint. The turmoil on our streets and in our government often gives way to hateful speech and slanderous accusations. We yell out blame and stereotypes with loud voices, while we jettison compassion and gratitude. Yes, we should speak out against all evil, and call it for what it is. But let’s be aware that our words are too often fueled by our sinful, fleshly nature rather than by the Holy Spirit. The Prophet Amos lived in a time of turmoil when sin abounded and chaos reigned. Here is what he said: “Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil. Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts” (Amos 5:13-15). In light of the evil in our times, wouldn’t it be prudent for us to avoid “shooting off our mouth” but rather manifest God’s wisdom by our actions combined with well-chosen words? What if people knew you not just as “someone with an opinion” but as a person who continually did what was good and right? What if people saw you as someone who stood against evil—no matter if the evil is named racism or violence? When we take a deep breath and step back, we realize we have a lot more in common than what divides us. What if we as Christians used our words to bring healing and unity rather than further division and distrust? Please understand that I am not advocating silence. I am trying to remind you of the Scriptural principle found in Ecclesiastes which tells us there is a time for everything—“…a time to be silent and a time to speak” (3:7b). May the Holy Spirit lead us as “peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9) in these times of unrest and uncertainty. Lord, let our hearts be filled with the Holy Spirit and our words be guided by Your grace!

Pastor Mark Boucher