This week I have completed seventeen years of ministry at Findlay First as the lead pastor. What a journey it has been. My heart is full of love for the people of this church and our community. I remember when I was first called by Dr. Fairbanks to consider coming for an interview. My first thought was that I was content with where I was and that the Lord was continuing to use us where we were. I told Vickie that I thought my love for Shelby County was increasing. Her response to me was, “Why couldn’t your love for the people of Hancock County increase as well?” I guess she told me. So we decided to just come and interview.
During the interview, the Lord showed up in a powerful way and we knew that we were to come to Findlay. After preaching at a service during the week and fellowshipping with the people, Vickie was right. God placed the people of Findlay, Ohio on my heart. I specifically remember traveling home and wondering how we were going to tell the people of Sidney that God was calling us to another church. It was like mourning a death.
Sure enough, the next day, Dr. Fairbanks called and said that they wanted to continue in the process of calling us to come and be their pastor. After a few weeks and the congregation voted, we started our transition to Findlay, Ohio.
It is mind boggling to think of the many changes and how much we have all grown in the faith. I will be forever grateful for the love this church has shown to my family through the years. Vickie and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage on Monday and to think that we spent more than half of it with the great people of Findlay First Church of the Nazarene. Thank you for loving my family and helping me to raise my children.
It is fun to look at pictures of people and renovations over the years. What a fun journey it has been. Just think, in some respects, we have just begun. I am looking forward to many more years of growing to be more like Jesus with Findlay First Nazarene. Let me close with a prayer the Apostle Paul prayed for a church he was a part of.
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:15-23
Have a blessed day today and may the Lord open up doors you have been praying for.
Joy in Jesus!
Years ago, there was a book called The Pineapple Story about a missionary who had a hard time loving the people he was called to minister to. He had a pineapple garden that he was trying to cultivate, but the natives kept stealing the pineapples. He was angry all the time. Then he told the natives that he had “given his pineapple garden to God.” He gave up his rights to receive the treatment he “deserved.” He stopped being angry, because it was God’s problem now. When he did that, God did some interesting things!
The story is about realizing that we are stewards, not owners—that our lives and things aren’t our own if we have given them to God. Anger comes when we hold on to our rights. It’s a matter of surrender. We could live more joyfully— maybe even love unconditionally—if we would say, “God, this is your relationship. This is your time. This is your idea. I’m going to surrender to You my agenda and my expectations.”
Will we still be disappointed and hurt sometimes? Yes, but we give that to God, too. Sometimes dealing with issues like anger is both an instant decision and a process. If you are struggling with anger issues, then let me suggest you do the following:
1. Recall what makes you angry. What are you really angry about?
2. List your rights which others are violating.
3. Transfer your rights to God. Picture yourself kneeling in the presence of God and putting your rights on the altar. Then tell God He can do whatever He wants. You are giving ownership of that to God.
4. Intentionally thank God whatever happens. God may not give you what you want for reasons you may not see. If He does, they are privileges to be used for God’s purposes.
5. Use future anger as God’s alarm system. Meekness is yielding our rights to God. Anger will point out something that needs to be let go of and given back to God.
“Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that.” Ephesians 5:2, The Message
Father’s Day is this Sunday. Come and bring all fathers and there will be a gift for you following each service. Camp Meeting in St. Marys is still going on. If you have never been before, it is worth checking out. Hope to see you down there. Have a blessed day!
Joy in Jesus!
Faith and hope go closely together. I want to look in Hebrews today to find the correlation that the enemy does not want us to ponder on. Biblical hope is much more than simply longing for something that might happen. It is a confident assurance – rooted in faith – that God will do what he promised to do. This is huge in understanding the totality of faith and hope.
Let me lay out a path for you to dwell on today.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
To not hope gives us no future. To not have faith would kill any hopes you have of the future. Do you see the connection?
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
Now we see that belief plays a major role in faith and hope. It is like they are all intertwined. Amazing! Could it be that the reward for those who earnestly seek him is fresh hope?
Now look with me at Hebrews 6:19: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
The image suggests a harbor where the soul securely drops an anchor. That anchor has been carried to the safest point of all – the inner sanctuary behind the curtain – by Jesus, who went before us. To keep the harbor imagery in mind, it recalls the role of sailors who leave their ship in a smaller craft in order to carry the anchor forward to a place where it can be firmly lodged. So too Jesus, by his entrance into the heavenly sanctuary where He functions as a High Priest forever, interceding for us all, gives to us a hope anchored in total trust that He will do what he says he will do. That alone is enough to rest on the hope of a great future.
I think of the song Cornerstone that we sing from time to time:
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus’ name
Christ alone, cornerstone, weak made strong, in the Saviors love
Through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of all.
Whatever you are going through today, whatever has happened to you yesterday, don’t allow the enemy to steal your hope. Place your hope in Christ, the Great High Priest, a place that is secure forever. God is faithful!
On Sunday, we will continue to look at John 3 and ask the Lord to reveal to us exactly what we need to continue to live a fruitful, spirit-filled, hope-filled life. Live free today and place your trust solely on things from above and not of this world.
Joy in Jesus!
Rev. Mike McClurg
Senior Pastor, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene