Time for some Spring Cleaning!
One of our favorite shows on TV was Clean House. It was so cool to see people just like us who ended up living in homes buried in years of accumulated “stuff”, some valuable, most not so valuable. In most of the cases, the persons living in that home were very resistant to giving up much of their “stuff”, even if the items no longer served a purpose.
A Blended Family With 20 Years of Clutter!
My own family can relate. We are a blended family, each bringing to our Bend, Oregon household 20 plus years of accumulated memories, belongings, and “stuff”, and yes, some baggage as well! We, too, were resistant to change, and letting go of outdated and unusable belongings was difficult. The more we came together in agreement as to what should go, there was much relief to see clean in place of clutter, and new things replacing the old worn out ones.
Your House Isn’t the Only Thing That Needs Cleaning!
As I grow in maturity as a Christian, I understand that cleaning my house may be important, but the cleaning of my heart is imperative to my joy, peace and relationship with God and with others. Just like my house, there are corners and dark places that still hold dirt, and God wants to make you as clean inside as on the outside.
A Clean That Lasts Forever
The prophet Ezekiel tells us of God’s desire for us in Ezekiel 36:25-27: 25 “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
So how can we strive to become the clutter free, germ free, clean vessel of the Holy Spirit?
Try putting these items on your to-do list:
Taking the Challenge in Bend, Oregon
We have a favorite antique brass doorknocker that was given to us by a godly couple when we first became Christians in 1991. I have it to this day, and on it are the words of Joshua, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”. It is a reminder that we ought to continue to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)
That means that though I long ago rid myself of the “biggies” like substance abuse or immorality, I still need to daily take the challenge to rid my heart of all remaining grudges, resentments, bitterness, or unforgiveness.
So, my fellow Bendites, I invite you to join me in this challenge!
When God Says No, A Story from My Life in Bend, Oregon
By Christy Osterkamp
I didn’t ask for anything petty, or illegal, immoral, or indulgent. I simply, again, asked for a basic full time job for my son in law to support his family, consisting of my daughter and their 17 month old son. They were wonderful enough to move down the street from us after being released from the Marines, but ever since they arrived, they have struggled to find enough work to support their little family. I thought I could win God’s favor by offering to have my prayer for my own job denied in favor of my son in law receiving his. It didn’t work. It wasn’t as if I was trying to bribe God. I had heard that if you want something answered for yourself, pray it for another person.
“Who, if asked by his child for a piece of bread, would give him a stone instead?”
Once again, these words from Matthew 7:9 enter my thoughts and I ask yet again, Why God? As Tevye the Milkman in “Fiddler on the Roof” laments, “Would it be so terrible if I had a small fortune?” And I’m not even asking for a fortune! I’m just asking for a basic full time job with benefits, something most of us took for granted until 2008. The economic crash of 2008, combined with the untimely abandonment by our former spouses, left my husband and I bankrupt and starting all over again financially.
My husband and I love word games. When someone says something like “hang in there”, or “God has a better plan for you”, I usually call it a “Duck-billed Platitude”. Those clichés which are meant to make me feel better leave me feeling no comfort at all. If I had a dollar for every application I’ve filled out, and every interview I lost, I would then be rich, or so it seems.
Counting My Blessings
When I am reminded to count my blessings, shame washes over me as I remember that all my needs are met, my bills are paid, my family is well, and my feeling sorry for myself is the height of selfishness. I have no right to whine about being unemployed, when the truth is I am not comfortable being supported by someone else! I had been self sufficient by necessity for six years, playing the role of mother and father and provider to my three daughters, sending two of them off to college, and planning and paying for two of their weddings. Now for some reason totally out of my control, I am RELIANT upon my husband to support us, while I bring in meager income doing substitute jobs while continuing this long struggle to find permanent work again. The funny thing is, my husband never complains, or whines how I don’t pull my own weight.
What could God be trying to teach me?
One thing I have learned in all of this is to Fully Rely on God (the FROG acronym). My son in law is also learning this, and perhaps in so doing we are receiving something of more worth and value than getting what we want right now.
Ask, Seek, Knock
Matthew 7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Tomorrow I will continue to ask, seek, and knock. God doesn’t get tired of my questions and requests. All that He asks for is my faith.
I look forward to the day when I can look back and see where all these unanswered prayers were leading. Then, as Joyce Meyer likes to say, I will turn all my “moanies” into testimonies!
Why In the World Do I Do What I Do in Bend Oregon?
Contributed by Christy Osterkamp
When I first arrived in Bend, Oregon, I believed all the bad stuff was behind me. I had a new life, a new husband, a new future. When I discovered that my PROBLEMS and WEAKNESSES followed me to Bend, I was discouraged. I thought I had left all of those on the coast!! Having past my fiftieth birthday, I was still struggling with these questions: Why do I feel what I feel? Why do I react how I react? Why do I do what I do, even when I hate myself for doing it?
Ask the question…get a plethora of answers…
The world will give us many answers if we seek them, some of them helpful, some of them not. In a strictly psychological sense, my problems can be contributed to being the offspring of a stressed out, unwed mother, who was unable to hold me and bond with me, resulting in a lack of necessary glucocorticoids in my brain. Compound that with weeks in a foster care system receiving questionable care, learning to walk in a hip spica cast (spread eagle), and topping that off with a childhood of sexual abuse and secrecy in my adopted family, I was a recipe for disaster. So now I understood how messed up I was, what in the world could I DO about it?
Seeking Answers Outside the Box
It is said that the definition of stupidity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. I finally got tired of being on the same emotional cycle of rejection and self hatred, and sought help from a Christian counselor. In so doing, I am learning to grieve my past but not allow it to continue to define me. I am learning to accept graciously those who choose not to be in relationship with me, and cherish and enjoy those who do.
Does the Bible Really Understand Me NOW?
Paul the apostle, who authored many of the books of the New Testament, mirrors some of my feelings in Romans 7:15. “15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”
So Where is Our Hope?
Paul continues in Romans 7:21, “21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
What Flavor is the Church?
Contributed by Doc Adams
When looking for a church, what is the most important factor you consider: the pastor, the worship, location, or maybe the size? Here in Bend, Oregon you can find almost any flavor of church. From conservative to liberal, although you will be hard pressed to find snake handlers here Bend.
More important than finding the right flavor of church is understanding what the church is. When you find that right church for you or you and your family what makes it a great church? For most people who attend church on a regular basis, it’s because of the pastor and his/her personality. But what happens to a church when the pastor leaves?
What many people don’t understand is that the church is not about the pastor. The church is you. Do you take ownership in the church you attend? Whether it is in a metropolitan area or here in small, but beautiful Bend, Oregon, the church where you fellowship is yours.
I heard one pastor say, “I don’t do bulletins.” What he was referring to was that the members of a church should be responsible for the activities of the church. Too much expectation is put upon the pastor. But why? Pastors may come and go, but you do not. You are the church.
The Church Is YOU
I would like to encourage you to take a walk. Go to your church and walk through each room. Look around. These are your rooms, your tables, your chairs, your carpet, your pulpit, and your altar. No, this does not mean you can take them home. It means that you are responsible for people who walk through the doors of your church. You are responsible for the actions and direction your church is taking.
Take ownership. YOU are the church.
Epikos Community Blog
Welcome to the Epikos Community Blog where you can find and read blog posts from members of Epikos Church in Bend, OR. At Epikos we believe in the value of every member and this is a place for members to share about the work God is doing in their lives.