Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Providential Protection

Devotion: Ruth 2:21-23

This week we conclude Ruth's report back to Naomi. As we have seen, the two women were blessed by God through Boaz with plenty of food because he was a kinsman redeemer to Naomi. The providential care of God extended beyond sustenance to Ruth's protection as well.
"And Ruth the Moabite said, 'Besides, he said to me, "You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest." ' And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, 'It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.' So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law." -Ruth 2:21-23 ESV
Ruth was a foreign woman operating in what could be a hostile environment. God created men and women to care for one another, but because of sin some men have used their superior strength to dominate and harm women. Ruth and Naomi are well-aware of this harsh reality, but Naomi is beginning to see just how great is the providential protection of her God. Not only would Ruth bring in enough food for them to last them, but she would also be protected from the abuses and assaults she could suffer in a different place.
God's providential protection of Ruth served His purpose as Ruth will factor into the line of David and, eventually, the birth of Jesus. Yet, I think we can all look to God for protection in our daily lives. While I believe in total depravity (every human being/human action is tainted by sin), I do not believe in utter depravity (everything is bad as it can be). It is God who keeps us from the second and for this we ought to give thanks and glory to His name.

News for You:

  • The Omak Chamber of Commerce’s annual Twilight Christmas Parade is Saturday, December 9th.  We will be decorating the Blue Angel to fit this year’s theme of “Country Christmas.”  If you are interested in participating in this event, please contact the church office.
  • The Okanogan Community Homeless Shelter is looking for volunteers to be overnight hosts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at New Life Church in Okanogan.  December dates are the 12th, 13th, 19th, 20th, 26th, and 27th.  Please see Pastor Bill if you have questions or are interested in filling one of the spots available.  
  • Parents of nursery-aged children: Please stay after the service today to enjoy homemade muffins downstairs with your children.
  • Manfisher is asking for heavy winter coats and gloves for their inventory.  If you, or someone you know, have any of these items set aside to donate, please bring them to the church office for pick-up.
  • The Salvation Army bell-ringing sign-up for Saturday, December 2nd is available at the Welcome Center.  The location will be inside the Safeway entrance.
  • The women’s brunch & cookie exchange is Saturday, December 9th at 9am. Ladies, please join us for food and fellowship with one another.  A sign-up sheet is available at the Welcome Center.
  • There will be a Christmas breakfast potluck during fellowship hour on Sunday, December 10th.  You can sign up at the Welcome Center or contact Sandee Freese for more information.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Joy of Providence

Devotion: Ruth 2:19-20

A couple weeks back we left the story of Ruth and Naomi as Ruth came home to Naomi after a day's work with more food than they could use in a week. It was worth pausing with Ruth to enjoy the day's work, but it is also worth our time to go on further with the women.
"And her mother-in-law said to her, 'Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.' So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, 'The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.' And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, 'May he be blessed by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!' Naomi also said to her, 'The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.' " -Ruth 2:19-20 ESV 
Naomi is simply amazed at the bounty Ruth has brought home. Naomi quickly jumps to the conclusion that a man must have taken notice of Ruth for her to have received so much. That is true, but it would be more true to note that it is God who had taken notice of the two women and intervened through Boaz to care for their needs. At any rate, the bounty is cause for celebration!
Naomi then turns to prayer for Boaz. God had provided for her and Ruth through Boaz and so she prays for blessing for Boaz to the Lord who is kind enough to not abandon the living or the dead. Naomi's prayer is one of the first indications in the Old Testament that the Lord's providential care for His people is not limited by death. God had not forsaken the two women, nor had God forsaken Naomi's dead husband and dead sons. He was still active in providential care for Naomi and through Boaz, there was a hope that a redemption could come to her family.
It is Naomi's last words that should turn the Christian to think of Christ Jesus. In Genesis 1:27 we are said to be created in the image of God. What is meant by this term, image of God, (usually given the Latin name, "imago Dei") is a hotly debated topic in theology. I attended a whole conference devoted to the topic at Wheaton College some years back. There, an Old Testament professor named Catherine McDowell, argued that at least one understanding of the image of God is that we are created to be kin to God. As kin (though not of the same kind) we are able to be redeemed out of our debt by the Lord according to the Law. Naomi's hope that Boaz, as kin to her, could be one of their redeemers should point us to the Christ.
The Son of God, who is kin to us already as the very Word by which we were created, is our great redeemer because of his becoming our kind in the incarnation in the human Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is our ultimate redeemer because he is our kinsman and because his wealth of God's favor is boundless. It is out of the great wealth the he can grant to us through faith the grace of God. What's more, Jesus also pays our debt upon the cross, not only leading us to break even, but to an abundance of riches in his grace. This is pure joy for the believer that God has provided in such an over-flowing fashion.
I hope in the coming week, perhaps over a meal of turkey, you can thank your God for the joy of His providence in Christ Jesus. You can thank Him for redeeming you and invite others into the joy of His bounty.

News for You:

  • Interested in being a fellowship hour host?  Sign-ups are available through the month of December on the whiteboard in the Fellowship Hall.  See Dolores Edelman if you’re interested in signing up or have questions about how to be a host!
  • Manfisher is in need of heavy winter coats and gloves for their inventory.  If you, or someone you know, have any of these items set aside to donate, please bring them to the church office for pick-up.
  • The Salvation Army bell-ringing sign-up for Saturday, December 2nd is available at the Welcome Center.  The location will be inside the Safeway entrance.
  • The women’s brunch & cookie exchange is Saturday, December 9th at 9am. Ladies, please join us for food and fellowship with one another.  Sign-up sheet available at the Welcome Center.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Quick Note: Pastor Bill Away

Just a quick update this week. I am away this week at continuing education. The blog will resume its regular posting schedule next week.
A quick thought for you all:
The Apostle Paul states in Galatians 5:1 (ESV) "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." One of the challenges of the Christian walk is an attempt to return to the yoke of slavery of sin. We are a people who claim to love liberty above all else, yet when it comes to actual freedom--the freedom to do what is right--we often fall back to the lesser and demonic freedom of choosing between good and evil. Christ has set us free from this false freedom and its hidden yoke. You are free to live with Christ here and now and to express that freedom by doing what is right. The enemy wants you to be discouraged, depressed and ineffective. Christ not only wants you to be free, he has set you free in his death and resurrection. Be free and do not let anyone or anything force back into the yoke of sin.

News for you:

  • Potluck this Sunday to celebrate and give thanks. Last names A-M bring a side or salad, N-Z bring a dessert.
  • Manfisher is serving a turkey dinner on Sunday, November 19th and could use some help! If you would like to help cook and de-bone turkeys, please see Kathy Mintzer for more info. 
  • The women’s brunch & cookie exchange is Saturday, December 9th at 9am. Ladies, please join us for food and fellowship with one another.  Sign-up sheet available at the Welcome Center.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Finish the Day's Work

Devotion: Ruth 2:17-18

I will be honest that my original plan for the blog this week was to gloss over these verses and get back to the topic of being noticed that takes up in 2:19. Yet, as I read through these passages again this morning I found a Word from the Lord here. Perhaps it is because I am one of those people who never quite finishes anything. As a pastor my work is usually ongoing and so my profession is a good fit for me. Yet, there is something deeply satisfying about finishing the day's work. In our passage today, Ruth finishes her day's work:
"So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied." -Ruth 2:17-18 ESV
Ruth was able to bring home about 5 dry gallons of barley grain. Her efforts in the field (with Boaz's intervention on her behalf) produced enough food for her and Naomi to live. In addition, Ruth kept her leftovers from lunch and brought those as well. It was a bounty for the two and perhaps more than Naomi had any right to expect. The day's work produced more than enough for the day's needs. This was a blessing for the women.
God works like that in our lives. We have been given work as a gift and as we work we hope that we have enough for the day (and usually we have a bit more). Yet, when it comes to the Lord, we always have an abundance. The provision of His own presence is more than we could ever hope for, yet it is ours out of His great grace. The Lord presents Himself to us in the Word that we have as an abundance. I pray you take up the study of the Word as a discipline and find that the Lord rewards your efforts with an abundance of His presence. You may then finish your day and rest in His abundant presence.

News for You:

  • Evelyn Minnich's 100th Birthday Reception will be this Saturday, November 11, from 1-4 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of CPC Omak. Come join friends and family in the celebration of this amazing milestone!
  • Operation Christmas Child boxes are due in this Sunday, November 12th. We are collecting them in the Sanctuary to send them out with our blessing this week. If you miss the deadline, boxes can be delivered to Cornerstone through November 17th.
  • We will have a brief Congregational Meeting following worship on November 12 for the purpose of electing officers (elders and deacons). Please plan to attend.
  • Are you looking for a way to connect and serve with CPC? We will be hosting a Ministry Fair during the fellowship hour this Sunday, November 12. Come find ways you can serve and connect!
  • Salvation Army Bell Ringing sign-ups can be found at the Welcome Center of CPC. We are currently recruiting bell ringings for Black Friday!
  • The Okanogan Community Homeless Shelters is looking for volunteer screeners and overnight hosts for the 2017-2018 shelter season. A training for hosts will take place 11/11 from 2-3 p.m. at New Life Church in Okanogan. Screeners will have a training the same day from 3-5 p.m. Our shelter season will kick off on 11/15 and sign-ups for overnight hosts will be coming to a church near you soon!
  • Calling all Men: Men's Prayer breakfast 11/11 at 6 a.m.
  • We are always looking for help to prepare meals for our Youth Group gatherings Sunday evenings. Contact Jennifer Fudge if you are interested or sign-up at the Ministry Fair.
  • Our Fellowship Hour will be a Thanksgiving Potluck on 11/19. Should be great!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Devotion: Ruth 2:14-16

Our blog is a little late getting posted today because I had a member stop by this morning to discuss generosity. I had envisioned a different direction for the text today, but after that discussion I reread the passage and retooled the devotion. Boaz is generous toward Ruth and this is the point.
"And at mealtime Boaz said to her, 'Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.' So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, 'Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.' " -Ruth 2:14-16
When we think generosity we usually think in terms of money. Generosity means freely sharing what money we have others, especially those we consider less fortunate than ourselves. Yet Boaz' generosity goes much further. Boaz does not simply ensure that Ruth (and, by her gleaning, Naomi) have something to eat, but he sits and eats with Ruth.
Some years back in my Oregon days I was talking with a retired Methodist pastor who was starting up a weekly meal program for the "less fortunate." We were in a weekly Bible study together and when we got to the new ministry idea I asked him what he and the others would be doing after they had prepared the food. He replied that they would be serving the people. That's a great answer, but something (let's say the Holy Spirit) led me to suggest that perhaps they could sit and eat with the people they were serving instead. We talked through the idea and he admitted that it would mean that they could not monitor how much people were taking as everyone would serve themselves like, "at a potluck," he said. Ah, that's when the light when on for both of us. Sitting and eating together creates a bond of trust. There is enough food, everyone shares, we do this together. Weeks went by and I did not think of the matter anymore. After what must have been three months the other pastor approached me after Bible study. They had decided to go the traditional way (we serve you while you eat) for a few weeks before the rest of the group agreed to try it his way. Immediately, the ministry began to flourish. It's about relationships and being generous in those relationships.
Boaz sits and eats with Ruth and she has more than she can even eat. He does not give her basic sustenance, but the good stuff. I have read too many commentators who claim this is because Boaz has a crush on Ruth. If he did, the text sure has a funny way of showing it. Instead, in Boaz we meet a man who genuinely cares for Ruth and ensures she has not just what she needs, but that she knows she is cared for beyond basic necessity. Even further, Boaz makes sure that she is able to glean more than enough for her and Naomi (and not just the leavings, but the good stuff).
What would it mean for you (and for me for that matter) to approach ministering to others as not merely an act of necessity, but rather as a generous giver who thinks not only of meeting a need, but giving the good stuff. I am convinced that this can only happen when we add our time to our monetary generosity. To prepare a meal for someone is wonderful. Even better, invite someone over and give your time in conversation and fellowship. Jesus did this with his disciples and this Sunday we will remember what he did as we sit at table once again in the Lord's Supper. I hope you will join us and be generous with your time as you sit and eat with others this week.

News for You:

  • Operation Christmas Child boxes are available at CPC. The deadline to submit boxes will be Sunday, 11/12.
  • We will begin sign-ups for Salvation Army bell ringing soon. This is a great ministry that goes to support the needy in our community.
  • Youth Group Meals are needed. Our middle and high school youth group meets at Kurt and Jennifer Fudge's house at 6 p.m. The youth group shares a family style meal, a devotion and activities. Be part of the joy by getting involved.
  • Evelyn Minnich's 100th Birthday reception will be Saturday, November 11, 1-4 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. Please join family and friends in celebration of this special milestone

Shout Outs:

 Thanks to all who helped at the Trunk-or-Treat. It was a monumental effort to serve over 670 trick-or-treaters. A huge thank you to the hot dog crew who served up enough dogs to feed 600 people! I snagged a couple of pictures Jennifer Fudge posted to Facebook in case you missed them (sorry, no kids we do not know because we want to respect the right to privacy):