Looking Back, Looking Forward

01/01/2011

     One of the spiritual disciplines that I try to accomplish every year is to read through the Bible in a year. To help me accomplish the goal, I have purchased a One Year Bible. In this Bible there are daily readings from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Proverbs and the New Testament. Some years I read all the daily texts. Some years I read just the Old Testament texts and other years I read only the New Testament texts. No matter how I do it I find that I am always blessed by the readings and find that there is something in the prescribed text for the day that I have needed to hear or something of which I need to be reminded.  The discipline is a valuable experience and I would highly recommend the practice to anyone who is serious about reading God’s word.
     This year I have finished the readings of the New Testament a few days ahead of time because I found myself unable to stop reading as I read the words of Revelation. I was captivated by the imagery and the details of that imagery that the Apostle John describes. The beauty of the heavenly city captured my imagination once again because as a former jeweler I worked for many years with gold and precious stones. So when John is describing the foundations of the city as being that of precious stones, I could see the colors of each one and could see in my mind’s eye the interplay of the various hues even as each one was enhanced and contrasted by the glistening gold of the streets and the incredible luster of the gates of pearls. What a sight!
     As a child of the King this is descriptive of the best that is yet to come. I’m sure that when we enter glory, it will be even more beautiful than it has been described and certainly more beautiful than we imagine.  It will be something to truly look forward to experiencing.
     When I hear the apostle describe the worship that goes on in heaven, this captivates my thoughts as well. What an awesome thing it will be to hear the combined voices of the saints from all ages, all nations, all tongues proclaiming in perfect four part harmony… “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” And the sight of angels joining in with the praise of the rushing wind their wings make…well, that too will be beyond our imagination.
     Looking ahead in anticipation of what is to come can have an interesting dynamic about it. Sometimes we get so into what lies in the future that our expectations grow to such dizzying heights that when the future gets here we are disappointed by its reality. I am sure this will not be the case with our ultimate union with our Lord. But until then, wonder with me a little about the future of the here and now.
     What kind of future does God have in mind for Bozeman CRC? Where will God lead us in this New Year? How will God use us in the coming New Year? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that God will be with us as we unravel his will for us as a worshiping body of believers.
     How do I know this? I know this because of who God is. God says that the presence of God will always be with us, that God will never leave us not forsake us. It is my conviction that when we prayerfully consider all the possibilities, God will indeed lead us. This is a great comfort to me as your pastor. I personally depend upon this promise as I minister among you from week to week.
     I also know this to be true because I can look back to the past and see the moving presence of God.
     2010 has been a year of mixed events. There have been trials and there have been triumphs. As I look back over my 2010 calendar I am able to see how God has grown us in fellowship. There have been sledding parties, potluck noon meals, Valentine and Christmas teas for the widows and singles of our church. There have been numerous gatherings for fun and fellowship with elderly and teens alike. There have been campouts with the GEMS and Cadets. There have been programs and work projects (shingling, cement replacement, parsonage painting). For these I am very thankful and I have been blessed by the wide range of individual participation.
     I look at my calendar and I see a Worship Planning team that meets on a regular basis to plan God glorifying, spiritually meaningful worship. I see that there is an active ministry of education for children in Sunday school, GEMS, Cadets, and small groups. I see that we have reignited our training of youth in the Catechism. I see a ministry developing with the rehabilitation center residents. I see Celebrate Recovery being used to encourage those who are dealing with addictions. I am so thankful to God for the leadership of individuals in each one of these ministries.
     And then I look at the first day of each week and I see that God has blessed us with worship times that have served to peak our taste for the worship that is to come. I hear the many voices of those who read scripture for the congregation every Sunday and I am thrilled with the wide range of participation. I hear the stories and lessons that are relayed each Sunday by so many who lead the Children’s Moment. I am so thankful for the way God is using those moments to cement relationships between the generations. I see that we have had special themes for Advent and Lent with wonderful music provided by ‘Solid Ground’ and I am blessed again by their commitment to quality and diligence in striving for excellence. What a blessing.
     I look today at the stack of yellow cards that have been filled out by guests who have come from the community, from MSU and from around the world. I see how they have been welcomed and greeted and I praise God for your welcoming spirit. I listen to the reports of how many people have visited our chapel in Paradise Valley and how many people have visited our web site and I wonder how God has used these ministries in the lives of people from around the world? I don’t know the answer to that question, either but God does.
     I look at my calendar and I see that there have been many meetings of elders and council and other committees and I remember how faithful God has been in providing leadership her at Bozeman church.
     So my dear friends, as God has shown Himself faithful to us in the past, I would encourage each of you to consider that God also calls us to be faithful to him and I challenge you to look carefully at your place in this body of believers and consider how God might use you. May the calendar year of 2011 be one in which an ever increasing number of us practice the principle of our faith which is that we have been saved to serve…God, others, and His church.
   A Blessed and prosperous New Year to you all.                        --Pastor Jerry Blom

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