Dear Members and Friends of Valley Park,
Most recently I am writing on what Jesus taught about the Family of God (Chapter 7 in my book). Two central priorities for Jesus were love of God, as a Father, and love of God’s children, as our brethren. These two primary teachings of Jesus inform a healthy church family life for all people in the world.
Love of God, as a Father
We know Jesus talked to God daily in a multitude of environments. He spent time alone with God by retreating to places where He could talk to God alone without interruption. He taught His followers to do the same. He taught them to prioritize “alone time” with God and He taught them the sort of things they should prioritize in their conversations with God.
5 “And when you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they will be seen by people. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But as for you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”Matthew 6:5-6
7 “And when you are praying, do not use thoughtless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. 9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father, who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done,Matthew 6:7-13
On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil.’
This teaching of Jesus prioritizes finding a place alone with God and things we can be talking to God about. Topics of discussion can include: 1) affirmation of what He is like [vs.9], 2) talking about what the Kingdom of God will be like and how we are promoting its values in our life [vs.10], 3) expressing our contentment with our needs being met apart from getting caught up with things we want [vs.11], 4) confessing our sins (debts) and expressing our need for forgiveness for things we have done not representing His values [vs.12], 5) and talking about the things we are tempted to do with willingness to let Him help us [vs.13].
Jesus believed and taught that time with God talking about meaningful things would help us grow as His children. Are we really talking to God about the most important things in life? How can we redirect our attention to the things that matter to us as children of God rather than our wants? The time we spend alone with God and the depth of our discussions are the most meaningful things in life for Him. Jesus gave us clear instructions on how we can spend the most constructive time with God.
Love of Children of God, as our Brethren
We know Jesus spent regular time with His disciples and called them His brethren. He taught that they were His true family of more importance than His earthly family and He gave a “New Commandment” that they were to love each other as much as He loved them.
46 While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. 47 Someone said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak to You.” 48 But Jesus replied to the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?” 49 And extending His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold: My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother, and sister, and mother.”Matthew 12:46-50
34 I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.”John 13:34-35
Jesus’ “New Commandment” was not simply a command to love. Loving God and people were commandments given by Moses (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18). The New Command was to love as “Jesus loved.” Jesus lived to love the brethren. He taught that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend (John 15:12-13). Jesus laid down His life for them. Jesus also taught that He was committed to serving them.
13 “You call Me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’; and you are correct, for so I am. 14 So if I, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example, so that you also would do just as I did for you. 16 Truly, truly I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”John 13:13-17
“Servanthood” is one of the most important Christlike values in life and it has many manifestations. In the life of Jesus, it was displayed in ways that we, as Christians committed to loving “as Jesus loved” can practice. Jesus 1) helped them with sickness and anything else physically harmful to them, 2) taught them about God, the future and the most important things in life, 3) Jesus encouraged them when they were discouraged, 4) Jesus spent time getting to know them and their families personally. In general, Jesus was their best friend through everything that mattered in their lives and was concerned to “protect” them and “provide” for them.
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.”John 14:1
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”Luke 19:10
“This took place so that the word which He spoke would be fulfilled: “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.”John 18:9
The heart of Jesus for His followers as God’s children was reflected in everything Jesus did and taught.
The encouragement I am offering this month is that all of us consider the degree to which we are loving God and each other. Specific expressions of this love are many and it needs to be a way of life as it was for Jesus during His three years of ministry. We know what He did. We can grow in depth of understanding of what He taught. At the core of our understanding of the heart of Jesus is drawing close to God, as a Father, and loving the children of God on behalf of Jesus. I am confident that these two primary commitments of the Christian life will strengthen the family life of Valley Park. We all need to embrace His commitments to building the family of God in order for the family of God at VP to grow.
To God be the glory!
Valley Park Ministries: Pray for the Following Ministries
- Volunteers Needed for Sunday Clean-up
- The Hospitality team continues to look for volunteers to help with lunch clean-up on Sundays. Perhaps you would consider a once-a-month commitment to help. If so, please talk to Ann Jones. Again, thank you for your consideration of helping on Sundays!!
- Children’s Ministry- Diana Nason
- All children join parents in the sanctuary at 10:30 A.M. for music and worship. They are dismissed to their class during the greeting time before the sermon.
- Parents need to sign their children in when they drop them off and pick up their children promptly after service in Room 4 (1st -5th grade) or Room 2 (Preschool through Kindergarten).
- Youth Ministry – Victor Paz. Meeting Location – Ranch House
- Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30 P.M. in the Ranch House.
- Sundays: Youth are dismissed to the Ranch House for Bible study during the greeting time before the sermon. (11 A.M. to 12 P.M.)
- Small Group Opportunities, Meeting Location – Church Conference Room
- Meetings are on break for the month of August!
- Food Pantry
- Wednesdays – We are presently serving 120-140 families involving over 500 people weekly. It appears that community needs are increasing. We always need help between 1-5 P.M. on Wednesdays with set up, serving and cleanup.
Valley Park’s “August Birthdays”: Members, Friends and Youth
Please consider giving us your contact and birthday information so we can include you in our recognition of birthdays.
01 Edna Villarama
01 Jose Jardines (Beti Gutierrez’s husband)
10 Daniella Kiraz-Villanueva
11 Diane Davis
15 Christian Villaneuva
15 Tony Munez
17 Vanessa Lavachek
18 Rylan Rivadeneira (child)
29 Natalie Windham