when i drove up to the park entrance of Coyote Point last Sabbath morning, i expected what some might come to expect when having worship in the outdoors–a stronger connection with my Creator, a refreshing experience of the Spirit, a re-dedication to the God i serve. of course, this is all well and good and i experienced what i expected to experience. however, i would be a fool to completely confine my experience to just that. for another thing that i left open to learn was the thing and/or things that God wanted me to learn today that i did not expect to learn. that’s one of the reasons why i love God–He’s surprising that way. and today was no different because there was one other thing that i expected in the outdoors… well i guess in my Christian experience as a whole but especially on an outdoors Sabbath… and that is that God would teach me things and show me things about Himself, about life, about eternity that are surprising and unexpected. and that is a gift–surprising and unexpected.
before i continue, i have to go back to last night at the Mountain View Japanese Seventh-day Adventist Church where this two-day experience began. using Taj Pacleb, “Righteousness by Faith” was the message and theme that God wanted us to more fully understand during the Sabbath hours. for the last week or so, the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me about purging the things that aren’t necessary. i suppose this is the residual effect of the previous month’s seminar and last night it made me think about how much garbage i still have around that i have procrastinated in getting rid off. it was on the list “to do” but never done. well when i got home that night it was resolved, like the prodigal son i came to myself and with quick prayer for strength allowed God to free me from the things that seemed so important but in reality made Him less important. i thank God for helping me follow through with the words that claim that He’s the most important.
so this Sabbath morning, i came to nature. though i know that sin has marked itself all over God’s creation, i know that God is here and can speak to me in a place that still tells of His wonder (Ps 104) and that doesn’t have the distractions that i may find elsewhere. Taj said many things, but God impressed me with the imagery of Jesus crushing… yes CRUSHING… the head of Satan at Calvary (Gen 3:15, Matt 27:33, 51). and if i truly want that victory over Satan, then i will have to truly allow Christ to live in me fully. i know that this process is not something that can happen in an instant, but the decisions that i make daily… that i make at each moment… are opportunities for me to choose Christ, to choose to tap into His infinite power, to allow Him to overcome through me.
i want to be one of those people in Revelation 2 & 3 who overcomes. and the overcoming thought is to overcome without His power, but that’s not how it’s supposed to be. overcoming is easy because it’s Christ in us who gives us the power. truly wanting to overcome… truly desiring to overcome… truly deciding to let Him overcome for us is the struggle (Rom 7:14-25). because in the process of renewing the mind (Rom 12:2) to that of the mind of Christ, we’re letting go of all the ideas and patterns of thought that aren’t Christ-like. but you know what? as long as your heart is humble and that you yearn to be taught of God… as long as you want to stay at the feet of Jesus and want to honor Him with your life… He will cultivate the faith needed to make that decision easier and easier. His delight is that we delight in obeying Him because we love Him… in fact to the point where we love Him so much that obeying Him is an impulse. i want to take this one step further if possible. “Thy word have i hid in mine heart, that i may not sin against Thee” (Ps 119:11). in knowing the Word we know the things that we do that show our obedience (or disobedience) to Him. but in a relationship that’s a rather awkward setup. in the beginning i suppose that how it is, but as our relationship with Jesus grows more and more, prayerfully His character is more and more becoming infused with ours and displacing the parts that aren’t like Him. i want to get to the point when just “being” is naturally obeying Him. to do that, i will have to actively starve the sinful man and feed the spiritual man.
after worship we had a delicious lunch and fellowship. i believe spiritual food isn’t only obtained at a sermon or homily but even during eating physical food with others. look at the many opportunities Jesus took to share himself when food and festivities were present. the wedding at Cana, feeding the 5000, Zacchaeus, and the shore of Galilee are just some of the recorded instances. i’m sure that there’s a lot more. eating is an opportunity to connect with each other, to edify each other, to learn about each other.
when our stomachs were full, some of us went around the park to pass out books and to witness to the other people at the park. a few of us stayed behind for Bible study and personal sharing. i decided to start this blog and then go around the park to take pictures of the beautiful details, colors, and textures in God’s nature.
we all gathered back and relaxed a bit before we had vespers. although some people had to leave earlier, we were happy that others joined us to close out the Sabbath. when the worship was over, we had to quickly pack up our stuff and relocate to the Mountain View Japanese Seventh-day Adventist Church before the park closed. it was there where we had dinner from the food left over from lunch. in fact, there was such an overabundance of food i would safely assume that we could at least go one more meal but instead we distributed the rest amongst ourselves the items which couldn’t be stored long-term.
the rest of the evening was spent hanging out, building friendships old and new for this is what the body of Christ is all about. for in a society that is headed more and more to isolationism and with the growing spirit of dispute and disharmony, Christ’s body indeed shines bright. last weekend, i have been refreshed in the community of God’s people that works together, eats together, loves together, and someday soon will live together forever. amen!