Pastor John’s Blog
Pastor John’s Blog

Come As You Are

Henri Nouwen in his book on the story of the Prodigal Son says it this way, “It often seems to me that the more I try to disentangle myself from the darkness, the darker it becomes. I need light, but that light has to conquer my darkness, and that I cannot bring about myself. I cannot forgive myself. I cannot make myself feel loved. By myself I cannot leave the land of my anger. I cannot bring myself home nor can I create communion on my own. I can desire it, hope for it, wait for it, yes, pray for it. But my true freedom I cannot fabricate for myself. That must be given to me. I am lost. I must be found and brought home by the shepherd who goes out to me.”

Passion is Contagious

Rob was the first guy I heard talk with passion about comic books. I liked comic books but he LOVED comic books. This was in middle school, back when comic books and magazine racks were in every gas station and grocery store. Rob was so passionate about collecting comic books that he had learned the day and hour when deliveries were made to each store in his area. I went with him one time to meet the delivery truck at one stop, then watched him carefully, reverently, sift through the stacks to find the copies in the best condition. Watching him and listening to him talk about comic books made me want to know more about them. I wanted that kind of excitement. I wanted to be like Rob.

Greater Love

Our memory verse for February is John 15:13-14. Verse 13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus is primarily referring to his coming death in this verse, yet also the general principle holds true that the greatest act of love one can show is laying down their life for someone else. And there’s another application that points to the active and intentional living of a life of sacrifice, day after day, year after year, living your life to serve others, saying no to self and yes to Christ and his plans. Behind all of those selfless Sunday School teachers I encountered was a person who was giving leadership to them and our Children’s Ministry for all of those years: Eddie Lee Brooks.

Faithful in Prayer

I was at the Southern Seminary bookstore recently, a place I visit once a month or so to see what new books are out and what books might relate to the current needs of our church. When I brought my modest stack to the cash register, the young man working there asked if I was a pastor. We talked some about Valley View and then he asked where I went to seminary. I told him Phoenix seminary, and he asked, “Did you know Wayne Grudem?” I said “Yes, in fact he mentored me while I was there.” Then he asked, “What is something about him that not everybody knows that you really admire and respect?” Right away I knew how to answer this: “It’s his prayer life.” 

Faithful in the Little Things

Sunday I shared the story of my Great-Great-Great Uncle Emory Reese. He and his wife Deborah served as missionaries in Western Kenya from 1898-1923. Early in his work as a missionary Emory wrote his Dad a letter asking for advice. His Dad replied, “Do the littles. Do them well and watch them multiply in thy hands.” Luke 16:10 echoes this sentiment. “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.” The little things we do every day really do matter. It may not seem so in the moment, but over time they add up and make a difference. This was true on the mission field one-hundred years ago, and it’s true today.

Habits

It’s the start of a new year, and what better time to try and build a new habit to help you grow closer to Christ in the coming year? 2023 was an amazing year and we saw God do so many powerful things at Valley View. I believe God has positioned us to be a part of reaching our community for Christ in powerful new ways in 2024!