Tuesday, January 31, 2023

INHERITANCE

Have you ever gotten an inheritance? Last fall at Annual Conference I talked about how when my grandpa Hotrum passed away I got an inheritance and became a multi-hundredaire. How much more amazing is the inheritance we receive from the Lord? The Bible says that it is a "priceless inheritance." 

Peter, the friend of Jesus, is seen all through the gospels and in the book of Acts. Yet, his two epistles are tucked away toward the end of the New Testament. Peter was as close to Jesus when he was here on earth as you can get. Peter wrote:

1 Peter 1:3-4 "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance..."

When Peter says that God raised Jesus from the dead we know it's true. Peter was an eyewitness to the empty tomb and the risen Lord. Jesus is more than a nice idea and a good teacher, but he is the risen Lord. As a result we have a great expectation. This is called hope. We have hope in this life and hope for the life to come. Peter also says we have a priceless inheritance. Jesus fed thousands of people, he performed miracles, but he didn't leave Peter and the early church with a multimillion-shekel endowment. Jesus told Peter that he would be with them, and that was good enough. Peter was full of hope, focusing on the priceless inheritance we receive from Jesus. We get forgiveness of sin, peace in the midst of trouble, guidance from the Holy Spirit. All this and Heaven too. 

On my desk I have a pocket watch that doesn't work. My uncle Ken gave it to me a couple years ago. He said his grandpa (my great-grandpa) had given it to him over 40 years ago and Ken said that maybe I should hang on to it for a while. My great-grandpa Cleveland did not leave an inheritance of money to the family, but he did leave an inheritance of moral and godly character. He is the one who helped my dad through college and seminary. He is the one who we knew was praying for us. Are we passing on to the next generations part of the inheritance that we have received from the Lord? 






Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Church on Fire

Last week I watched online the livestream of a fire in downtown Portland. The building was a church that had been empty for several years. Before that it was a Korean church. Before that it was Portland First Evangelical Church. This once grand structure had been sitting empty and ignored for the past several years. That is until January 3rd when it was set on fire. 

I know and enjoy the history of the Pacific Conference, so I was sad to see the building burn. Especially since this was my family's church when I was a child. My dad was the youth pastor there while he was in college and seminary. However, it was even more sad to me that a place that once was the home of dynamic preaching and ministry had become an abandoned building that no longer was the site of a move of God, but a place of emptiness. People didn't care about this building until it caught on fire. There were plenty of firetrucks, firefighters, and camera crews. It made national news as people came just to watch the church on fire. 

There is a quote that is attributed to John Wesley. “Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.” So the question for us is, are we a people of passion? Do we have a passion for focusing on Jesus? Do we have a passion for following God's Word? Do we have a fiery passion for fulfilling the Great Commission? In Matthew 3:11 John the Baptist spoke of Jesus saying that he would baptize people in the Holy Spirit and in fire. Nobody cares about a church that is empty and does not have the fire of the Holy Spirit. Churches led by pastors who are on fire for the Lord and have believers on fire with a passion for following Jesus are an irresistible attraction. Just as people came to watch a church on fire in downtown Portland, they will come to watch a church that is on fire for the Lord. Do we have that passion? If not, are you asking God to renew your passion? 

Superintendent Brian






Tuesday, January 3, 2023

REPORTS

 

Last week between Christmas and New Years there were a lot of programs where they took the week off and basically showed the highlights from the previous year. The past few years I would put together a little video with a bunch of pictures of what we had done the previous year. Pretty soon the conference office will be "encouraging" pastors to fill out some reports that we need here at the office. I know those end of the year reports aren't the most fun a person can have, but they are significant. The end of the year report for churches we ask a few questions. They are good to stop and take stock of the state of the church for the past year as we look forward to a new year. 

In the Bible, in the book of Joshua, there is the story of the crossing of the Jordan River. Joshua and the Israelites left Egypt, wandered in the wilderness, and are now entering the Promised Land. Just as God performed a miracle and the previous generation walked through the Red Sea on dry ground, God performed a miracle and this generation walked across the Jordan River on dry ground. During this process, the Lord instructed Joshua to have guys get some rocks from the river and set them up on the bank. Joshua 4:7 "...These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever." For years after this event people would take their grandchildren to look at these stones and tell the next generation about the miracle God had done for them. 

So, as we begin a new year and we're doing the end of the year reports, filling out the paperwork, and doing our taxes, think about the miracles God did for us this past year. Maybe we don't have a pile of rocks to look at, but we can look back at this past year. There were blessings that came from the Lord. There were difficulties where the Lord was with us in the midst of our struggles. As we look back on the year and the changes in life, we recognize God's presence and God's provision, and just know that it is not all about us, but it is also to be a testimony to those who are not yet Christians. Joshua said at the end of chapter 4, "He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever." 

The Lord's hand is powerful. May we fear the Lord our God this coming year. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

FEAR NOT

A lot of our fears come because we're afraid of something different. We all have our own habits, routines, and preferences. We have our favorite brands of the products we buy. We also have the brands that we will avoid. It could be a favorite chair in the living room, a favorite item on a menu, a preferred brand of car, or a favorite candy bar. We have our preferred routines in life and when people or circumstances disrupt our routine we get upset and that leads to at least a little bit of fear. We go through life with our habits and routines and when something different comes along it causes fear. Maybe a tiny bit, maybe a lot. 

Here is a picture of Santa and a crying baby. That's me as the crying baby. (And yes, I realize I've put on a lot of weight since this picture was taken). I was about 16 months old at the time, and seeing a Santa at a mall apparently disrupted my routine and it caused some problems for me, as well as my parents who were trying to raise this extremely difficult child. 

When we look at the Christmas story in the Bible there are all kinds of disruptive events that broke Mary & Joseph out of their habits, routines, and preferences. The angel came to make announcements to Mary and told her to not be afraid of this major change in her life. She is not just pregnant before wedlock, but also the confusing announcement of a virgin birth. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream telling him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife. These were life-changing events that would cause anyone to panic and to be in fear, and the angel's message is to fear not. 

Here is the rest of the story of the crying baby Brian with Santa. The only reason my parents took me to see Santa is that the guy who was making some extra money playing Santa was my grandpa. This 16-month-old Brian knew his grandpa but didn't recognize him at the moment. I didn't realize that I was being held by someone who loves me. I didn't recognize that and it led to fear. Mary and Joseph had life-changing circumstances and they were living in fear, because they didn't realize they were being held by someone who loved them. So, there was a message from an angel that the God who loves them is in this and to not be afraid. 

As we all deal with our doubts, struggles, and fears in life, we need to remember to fear not. In the midst of a fast-paced and changing world it is so easy to give into our anxiety and fear. The reason we get afraid is that we don't recognize that we are being held by someone who loves us. 

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." 

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Emmanuel

Last month I changed jobs and moved into a new office. I have a lot of books, even after getting rid of books before the move. I have books, pictures, and other items that have been in my office for many years. I've moved several times, but these things come with me. Do I need all of these books in my office? Probably not. Why do I have all of these books that I have read and might not read again? It makes me feel like this is my office. It gives me comfort. Ok, these are my emotional support books. There, I said it, are you happy now? 

Why do we keep things with us? Why do people rent storage units to keep their "stuff"? We do this because it brings us comfort. Decades ago when I was a kid somehow I got through life without having a cell phone with me at all times. Now we need the comfort of knowing we might need to send a text or get a text or get directions or any number of things. Why do we do this? Because we feel alone. We struggle with being alone. In our society, placing someone in a room alone for an extended period is a punishment. Whether it is a child being put in "timeout" or a prisoner in solitary, it is a punishment. 

As human beings, we struggle with being alone. This is why humans want people around us, or the ability to communicate with people, or a pet, or emotional support books. All of that is kind of weird, but that's the human condition. And into this situation God sent Jesus. One of the names of Jesus is Emmanuel. In the Bible names are not just names, but they also are descriptive of the person. Jesus is called Emmanuel which means God with us. To these lonely human beings God sent himself. He did not send us more people or more stuff, he sent himself. He is the Emmanuel, he is God with us. 

Galatians 4:4 "But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law." God came to be the Emmanuel, to be with us as a human race at just the right time. And we can trust him to come to us at the right time. We may need God to give us comfort in the midst of sorrow, peace in the midst of busyness, or even correction when we're going the wrong way. God will be the Emmanuel if you let him. Will you let him be your Emmanuel? 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Dear Pacific Conference,

As I begin this adventure of being the Pacific Conference Superintendent I am keenly aware that I am less than perfect. I can't do everything Randy did, and if I tried I probably wouldn't be that successful because I'm not Randy. 

On superintendent election day, back in August, I recalled when I first became a pastor many years ago. I was in my 20's and was told to pastor a church and I knew I was in over my head. I hung on for dear life to the story from Genesis 41 where Pharaoh brings Joseph to interpret his dream. Joseph had interpreted a dream before and the word got to the king of Egypt. Joseph was summoned to interpret the dream for the Pharaoh, and Joseph's response was, "I can’t do it, but the God I serve can.” 

I have experience and education, but I know that isn't enough and I cannot do this job under my own power, but the God I serve can. I hope you'll give me a little bit of grace and let me learn how to be a superintendent. Sadly, my normal way of learning is typically the hard way. 

What I want the Pacific Conference to know is that I love you. I love this conference. I love our history and our story together. We have yet to have a perfect pastor in this conference, but I love all of them because they have put themselves out there saying "yes" to God and being willing to serve. That's huge. Over the years I've been way too quick to complain about the superintendent and the conference, so I'm pretty sure it will happen to me too. Just know that even to those who complain the most, I love you and I'm for you and not against you. 

I also need you to know that your part in the conference is incredibly important. 1 Corinthians 12:22 says that each part of the body is necessary. You are a necessary part of the Body of Christ. We are a group of churches working together to share the Good News with a lost and hurting world that desperately needs to hear the gospel message of salvation. 

We are all about the authority of Scripture. It is not a nice book of suggestions, it is our rule of life and the primary way God speaks to us. We are all about the centrality of Jesus. Everything we do is because of Jesus who changed our lives and it is still in the business of changing lives. And we are all about the Great Commission. We are not just to "keep the faith," we are to share the faith. Many things about society and culture and ministry are changing, but what does not change is the mission of the conference. George Millen said in 1968, “Its mission is to proclaim the New Testament gospel of free and full salvation,” and this is just as true today as it was then.

Superintendent Brian Hotrum 

INHERITANCE

Have you ever gotten an inheritance? Last fall at Annual Conference I talked about how when my grandpa Hotrum passed away I got an inheritan...