Bet Cortes • April 05, 2022
Have you ever thought “I need to seek God more… but I just can’t find the time”?
If you’ve ever struggled to find the time to go to bed earlier, to pray, or to do things that you really want to do but can’t seem to squeeze them in … you are in good company with the rest of us! It seems ironic that even though we have plenty of technology, time-saving appliances, and more home services than ever before in history… we still can’t find the time to do the things that are most important to us!
I don’t think my problem or yours is based in lack. I think it may be in having too much.
Too much to do. Too much to have. Not enough room.
In February this year I had the opportunity to visit the Magnolia Silos in Waco, Texas. It was a refreshing trip I was blessed to go on. While I was there I got to try the most delicious cupcakes I have ever had. They were so tasty I wanted to eat more and more. After two cupcakes though I realized… I couldn’t eat anything more! I was so full! The thought of eating another almost made me sick… even though they were delicious. The problem wasn’t with the cupcake. I was just too full.
“She wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” Luke 2:7.
When Jesus was born, there wasn’t room. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to host Him or his parents. They didn’t willfully reject him. They were just too busy to notice. They simply had no room. Is it possible for us to be like the Inn keepers? So busy and content with things that we can’t seem to find room for the most important?
There was no place for Jesus.
Perhaps we don’t more. We need less. We need to feel hungry again. We need to have room.
A definition of minimalism says that Minimalism is the “intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them” (Becker, The More of Less).
If minimalism with our belongings means that we intentionally promote those things we most value and remove anything that is a distraction, how do we do that in our lives? It may not be that we need to do more for God or add more to do’s to our schedule. Maybe, it’s something else that needs to be demoted. As I think about this, the question comes to my mind:
What do I need to take out of my life that doesn’t really matter?
Maybe fasting from social media, pinterest, or television… what is one thing that takes your time and doesn’t really matter? Another question to think on:
How can I intentionally promote those things that I most value?
If I want to promote those things that really matter, they can’t compete with those that truly don’t.
There were so many beautiful things to look at in all the shops at Magnolia Silos. But there was one place where everyone who entered stopped looking for what they were going to buy. Instead of walking around, they would look for a bench, sit down, and sit in silence. I did the same. It was the Chapel.
As we sat there, we all looked up. There was nothing to be said and nothing to be bought. There was silence. Peace. Connection with God. It was empty on purpose.
It is not about adding more and it is not what You DO FOR God that matters. It is who you ARE IN Him that does.
“The main measure of your devotion to God is not your devotional life. It is simply your life” (Ortberg, The Me I Want to Be). God wants to fill you and satisfy you. Because He made us and fashioned us for Himself… no matter what we may have in this life… He alone will satisfy our souls.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat” (Matt. 5:6, MSG).
Of all the ways you enjoy seeking God every day, can I add a couple more ways?
- Press the “Pause Button”: When you are feeling disconnected from God or worried about something, pause and invite His presence to fill you.
- Find an activity you enjoy doing, and invite God along with you to do it together.
- Go on a walk with God, tell Him what is on your mind.
God, we pray that you would help us make room for you in our lives and hunger for you in our souls. Give us this day our daily bread… the bread of your presence.
“You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you” (Saint Augustine).
Jonas Cortes • March 23, 2022
I heard of Brother Stacy Cline while in Mexico, 3 years before I even met him. My sister shared with me some nuggets of wisdom taken right out of her Marriage and the Family Class at Elim Bible Institute; a class Bro. Stacy taught for 47 years. I firmly believe the advice she shared with me back then, changed the course of my life and eventually that led me to meet my wife Bet.
In 2010 I finally found myself walking into his class and meeting him for the first time. He saw me and to my surprise he greeted me by name, “Jonas, it is good to see you. We’ve been praying for your arrival. Welcome to class!” Later I learned he would get a list with photos of all his students and would make it a point to learn their names and pray for them before meeting them.
In April of 2021, our family was getting ready to move from NY to MN. In the midst of all the business of moving, the Lord put two of my Elim professors on my heart. I clearly felt I was to reach out to them and setup a time to film an interview with them. I had no plan, just a sense of urgency about their spiritual legacy.
I managed to interview one of them and we ended up having a meaningful 4 hour conversation and a wonderful time eating supper together with Bet and the kids, but when I reached out to Bro. Stacy, the schedules just didn’t lined up. I remember our phone conversation during my last days in NY and hearing him say “hey, next time you are in the area we’ll do that”.
Stacy Cline entered into glory on Friday, March 4th, 2022 reuniting with his beloved Queen, as he would refer to his wife, Connie.
During the Memorial service last weekend I was saddened and internally kicking myself for not “making it happen” while fully aware there was nothing else I could’ve done then. After hearing the testimonies of the impact he had in so many people I finally released it and let out a “well, the Lord knows”.
A few days after the service I received a text in a group chat I’m a part of with some video creatives from NY. It was from Mike, one of the videographers sharing an encouraging message with us:
“For the first time in a long time I’m remembering just how powerful of a thing it is that we do (filming) Been working on a project for Elim Bible Institute. We filmed a bunch of interviews but one in particular of a staff member with Stage 4 cancer that had worked for the college 47 years. It ended up being his last interview ever…The man lived through a lot! So grateful for having met him”.
I could not believe it! God is so faithful! As I shared with Mike what I had been feeling he said:
“I think that not all lost opportunities are completely lost. I ended up getting a great interview with him and had I not gotten that opportunity, I don’t think today I’d have the same perspective. I know it’s probably hard to see that as anything but a lost opportunity, but I’m grateful that, in a way, you gave me the chance to see things differently today”
I guess the Lord still had one more life to impact through Bro. Stacy’s testimony. Although I thought I had missed out, God was still on the throne.
I want to encourage you today to listen to the prompts of the Lord to do things, to speak up, to reach out, to intercede, to pray, to go, but above all to trust that His faithfulness goes way beyond than what we are able to “make happen”.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV).
Cross Culture Community Church • March 02, 2022
Check out these thoughts from Tom Flaherty, a pastor at one of our sister churches in Madison, WI, as we begin the season of Lent today. This has some timely thoughts for the season and is very connected to what we've been going through in Hebrews:
“Let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation
of repentance from dead works…” Hebrews 6:1
On August 1, 2007, a bridge in Minneapolis that crossed the Mississippi river collapsed killing 13 and injuring 145. The irony was that work was being done on the bridge at the time of the collapse, but it was the wrong work. One article summed up the types of things that were being done: “The construction taking place in the weeks prior to the collapse included replacing lighting, and guard rails. At the time of the collapse, four of the eight lanes were closed for resurfacing.” Because the foundational work was left undone, all the other work proved to be in vain. This is how it is in a Christianity that lacks repentance. It doesn’t matter how much we do, if we haven’t really repented and aren’t living a life of repentance, all our works are dead in God’s sight.
Hebrews 3:7-8; 3:15 and 4:7 all say the same thing: “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”
Repentance is not possible until God speaks to us. He can speak through His word as we read it, or through a preacher at church, or by a dream or vision in the night, or through an honest friend, or in difficult circumstances. God has lots of ways to speak to us when He wants to get our attention.
When God speaks we need to agree with Him. David said, “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak” (Psalm 51:4). When we agree with what God says we justify Him; when we defend ourselves by making excuses for what we did, we justify ourselves. Hardening your heart toward God can actually mean softening your heart toward you by giving yourself unwarranted and unsanctified mercy for evil you have said, thought, or done. “It wasn’t that bad,” “he had it coming,” “I only spoke the truth,” “I was tired,” “Yeah, but she did that wrong thing first,” are just a few excuses that quickly come into our hearts when we seek to justify ourselves.
Let’s not live resurfacing the bridge when what it needs is foundation work. Rather, let’s each take time to seek our hearts and fully repent. Isaiah 30:15 gives the blessing that will result, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.”