Tag Archives: Mark Hopper

College Football

Pastor Mark Hopper

By Mark Hopper

One of the fun things that happens at this time of year is college football. The season has gone by so quickly and there is already a lot of talk about which teams will qualify to play in the post-season bowl games.

There is something about college football that appeals to me. College football is full of tradition.  Teams have their school colors and their school mascot.  Stadiums are filled with fans wearing t-shirts and sweatshirts proudly proclaiming their loyalty and support.

College football games usually include large marching bands that perform during halftime.  These bands add to the energy and pageantry to the game.  All through the game, the bands continue to play music and their school’s fight song to inspire their team and their fans.

Many years ago, my wife and I attended a college football game with some friends in Texas.  We had tickets in the student section.  The atmosphere was electric.  We were excited to go to a game at this university which was well-known for its football program.  But, what we didn’t realize was that the people in the student section don’t sit down. They stand throughout the game!

Since we stood during the whole game, I wondered why we bought a ticket with a specific seat assignment?  I must admit it was fun to be in the student section, but I was pretty tired by the end of the game.

Another tradition at this university was throwing the cheer leaders into the fountain if their football team won the game.  If they win, the cheerleaders got wet!

Photo courtesy: Google Images

Here in Southern California we have a number colleges and universities.  Several have nationally recognized football programs. You often see the names or logos of these schools on t-shirts and bumper stickers.  Many alumni proudly promote their school on the license plate frames on their cars and trucks.

Since most college football games are played on Saturday, there is often a lot of talk on the church patio on Sunday about the games the day before.  If your favorite team college team won on Saturday, you are glad to share the news with your friends on Sunday.  But, if your team lost on Saturday, you are more likely to talk about the weather than football!

I don’t know if there are any football fans in your family.  But, I suspect there are some college football fans in your neighborhood. Please be patient with them if they seem to get carried away with enthusiasm this time of year.  At the same time, if you are an avid college football fan, enjoy the moment.  The season will soon be over!

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

(909) 594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

I Can Fix That

By Mark Hopper

For many years, we had a gardener who mowed our grass each week.  He was faithful and conscientious and did a good job. However, one day I got the idea that maybe I should be mowing the lawn.  I could save money and get some valuable exercise too!

I have hybrid-Bermuda grass – similar to what they use on golf greens.  It is a tight, short type of grass that requires a special lawn mower.  Most golf courses I know use a McLane seven-blade front-throw mower to cut the grass on their putting greens.

I was able to buy a used McLane seven-blade gas mower on the internet.  I had high hopes for my “new” mower and for my lawn, too.  But, it hasn’t turned out as well as I expected.

Over the years, my used McLane mower has needed frequent repairs.  Thankfully, there was a helpful lawn mower repairman in our neighborhood.  He would pick up my mower with his truck and take it to his shop and get it going again.

Recently, my mower stopped working again.  But, when I called my repairman friend, the phone company said that his number was no longer in service.  Now what was I gong to do?  My trusty, reliable repairman was gone.  Maybe he retired and moved to Arizona where they only have gravel or crushed granite covering the front and back yards and don’t need lawn mowers!

I decided to try to fix the lawn mower myself.  It can’t be that hard.  I gathered up some tools and began to remove a few nuts and bolts here and there.  It was fun to see the belt and chain and springs that made the mower run.  I even cleaned out a lot of dry grass that had accumulated over many years under the mower and on the blades.

I looked up the manufacturer online and discovered that McLane seven-blade, front throw lawn mowers are actually made right here in Southern California. I ordered a couple of parts online hoping these could fix my problem.

I also looked on YouTube to see if I could diagnose the problem with the help of some of the do-it-yourself videos.  But, after several hours of effort and a number of phone calls, I was not successful.  Bummer!

So, what do you do when you are unable to fix your own lawn mower?  Call another local lawn mower repairman!  I found a new source in Pomona.  They came and got my mower with their pickup truck and took it to their shop.  As I write this article, I am anxiously sitting by the phone waiting for a call from the shop with an estimate for the cost of the necessary repairs.

If their estimate is reasonable, I will probably let them fix it so I can continue to mow my lawn.  If the estimate is too high, I may call the local crushed granite company and see how much it would cost to change the look of my yard from grass to granite!  I will let you know how it goes.

Let me encourage you to try fixing some stuff by yourself.  It can be very rewarding and you can save a lot of money, too.  But, let me also encourage you to be willing to ask for help.  There are some things that we just can’t fix by ourselves.  There are times we need help from others.

I suppose this is true in life too.  There are some things that we can fix ourselves.  But, there are some things we can’t.  In the Bible, we are instructed to pray and ask God for help.  Some things are beyond our human resources and skills.  One verse says, “Let us draw near (in prayer) with confidence to the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).  Make the “call” today.  Ask for help.  You will be glad you did!

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

Happy Thanksgiving

By Mark Hopper

One of the ways that I know that Thanksgiving is coming is when I see Pumpkin pies at Costco.  I love Pumpkin pie and I get excited to see them in season at Costco. Their pies are big and they taste good!

My wife loves to decorate our house in different ways for the changing seasons.  She has special dishes and table decorations specifically for Thanksgiving.  She has had our dinning room table decorated for weeks.  You probably have plenty of Thanksgiving decorations at your house too.

Fall leaves and pumpkins are on display in many stores.  We may not have the Fall leaves like they do back east, but at least we have some in the local stores!  We really don’t have the Fall weather either, but even in Southern California there are hints of the changing seasons.

My favorite part of Thanksgiving isn’t the food or decorations.  It is having our family together.  I really enjoy seeing our dinner table surrounded by our family on Thanksgiving Day.  These days we have some little ones who make it even more fun.

Sometimes we have had extra guests at Thanksgiving.  When our children were in college, they sometimes brought home friends or roommates who could not go home for Thanksgiving.  We were glad that our kids felt comfortable to invite guests to join us for the day.

On a few occasions, we have traveled to Arizona or Northern California to be with our extended family.  The traffic can be crazy on the Thanksgiving weekend, but it was worth the effort to be with our parents and grandparents for Thanksgiving.

I suspect that you have some holiday traditions in your family.  Take time to enjoy the moment.  Share what you are thankful for and listen to what others share, too.  Look around your dinner table and make a mental note of who is with you.  Let them know how thankful you are to have them in your life.

Many verses in the Bible remind us to give thanks to God.  Psalm 100 says, “Enter His gates with Thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. The Lord is good, His love endures forever and His faithfulness to all generations” (4-5).

I hope that you enjoy a memorable Thanksgiving this year.  I hope you will invite some guests to join you and your family at your dinner table. And, I hope you will join your hearts in prayer and give “thanks” to God for his abundant blessings in your life.  You will be glad you did and He will too!

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

Lost In A Hospital

By Mark Hopper

One of the privileges and responsibilities of a pastor is to visit people in the hospital.  My goal is to encourage the patient and family when I go to visit them.  I often read a verse from the Bible and always pray with the patient and their family.

However, I think there should be a rule that requires everyone from a specific church to use the same hospital!  I spend many hours on the freeways of LA visiting people in hospitals from Redlands to Santa Monica and from Pasadena to New Port Beach!  I have even driven to San Diego to see someone receiving critical medial care.

When I see the look on their faces and the tone in their voice, I know they are glad to see me and that they appreciate the time I have spent coming to see them.

Sometimes it is hard to find the patient in the hospital.  On some occasions, new mothers use their maiden name when having a baby.  In some cases,  people  simply use a different name when they are in the hospital.  It can be hard to find people and pastors learn to become persistent when searching for their parishioners!

But, even when you have the right name and the right room number, it can still be difficult to find a patient in a hospital.  Many older hospitals are like a maze in a corn field.  Hallways go in different directions, signs and numbers are hard to read and elevators only serve certain floors.  I have heard that some pastors have gotten so lost in hospitals and that they are never found again!

Recently, I was looking for a patient at the City of Hope in Duarte.  I was given the room number and general directions on how to get there.  However, as I wandered down several corridors in an older part of the hospital, I realized I was lost.  Which hallway was I supposed to follow?  Did they say to go left or right?  Was it the first hallway on the left or the second hallway on the right?

As I stood near a nurse’s station, a nice woman wearing a white lab coat asked me if I needed help.  She must have noticed the confused look on my face.  When I said “yes” and told her what rooom I was looking for, she politely explained that I was in the wrong ward.

To my surprise, she insisted on taking me to the room I was looking for.  I was amazed that she was willing to abruptly leave a meeting she was involved in to personally help me find the room and the patient. She sympathized with my dilemma and said that people often get lost or confused finding rooms in this older part of the hospital.  With her help I found the room and person I was looking for!

Several passages in the Bible (Mark 6:34 / I Peter 2:25) refer to us as sheep who have gone astray.  Sheep tend to wander away from the shepherd and get lost as they search for green grass.  The lost sheep need a shepherd to find them, guard them and guide them.  King David said in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd…he makes me lie down in green pastures and he guides me to still waters”.

We need to remember that there are times when will we need the help of others to find our way whether through confusing hospital corridors and in broader areas of life.  And, we also need to remember that there are people all around us that need our help finding their way, too.

The Bible says that we are all lost sheep and that we all need a shepherd.  You can read more about the “Good Shpeherd” in the gospel of John chapter 10 and in Psalm 23.

Let me encourage you to be more willing to stop what you are doing and give help or directions to those around you.  There may even be a pastor who has lost his way and needs your help!  You will be glad you did and he will too!

Pastor Mark Hopper

efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

A Different Perspective

By Mark Hopper

 

Recently, my wife and I had the opportunity to travel to Niagara Falls near Buffalo, New York.  We had never been there before and it was something we had talked about doing for a long time. The Niagara Falls were amazing!

We actually visited the Falls three different times on our trip. On our first visit, we drove over the bridge to the Canadian side. The sky was overcast and gray. The heavy mist churned up by the power of the falls obscured most of our view. We did walk down several tunnels that provided a limited view from behind the falls.

In addition, we took the Horn Blower boat that goes upriver to the base of the Falls. They issue every passenger a plastic poncho because of the spray; mist and wind that is generated by the powerful falling water.  We did get wet – very wet.  But it was fun to see the water falls from a different perspective.

We also took time to have lunch at a nice restaurant overlooking the falls.  We enjoyed a delicious lunch that also provided a different perspective on the size and power of Niagara Falls.  The volume of water and the height and shape of the Falls are hard to describe.

Later that day, we went back to see the Niagara Falls again after dark. They illuminate the towering waterfalls with powerful lights at night.  The colors change every few minutes.  The lights actually penetrate the mist and provide a clearer perspective of the expanse of the falls. Niagara Falls are in the shape of a horseshoe – almost 180 degrees from the American side to the Canadian side.

We were glad that we ventured out after dark to visit the park and the walking area along the American side of the Falls. The evening was cool but not uncomfortable and it was nice to see the Falls at night.

We planned to leave early the next morning.  But, when we woke up, we were surprised to see that the gray sky was gone and the sun was shining brightly!  We agreed that we should drive back to the Canadian side and get a better look at the magnificent waterfalls.  We were not disappointed.  The view was much better.  The mist and spray was more limited and we could clearly see the full expanse of these mighty waterfalls.

Did I mention that our return visit also allowed my wife to return and exchange a souvenir T-shirt that she had purchased the previous day?  We were glad we went back and saw the water falls again.

I suppose visiting something like the Niagara Falls is like visiting an art museum.  The more you look, the more you notice.  Just like an artistic master piece, these powerful waterfalls are difficult to describe and fully appreciate. Viewing them from different perspectives allows you to appreciate their beauty and majesty more and more.

Sometimes we need to look at things from a different perspective.  One look is not enough.  Sometimes we need to take a second or third look to get a clearer understanding of a person or a problem.  Let me encourage you to take another look.  We were glad we did and you will too!

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

Fall Colors

By Mark Hopper

Last year my wife and I traveled to New England to see the Fall colors.  We flew to Boston and then drove through the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire.  We were amazed to see the beauty of the fall colors. This year, we traveled to upstate New York on a similar journey.  We flew to Buffalo, New York, to see Niagara Falls and then drove across the state to visit relatives in the Albany area.  In addition, we spent two days in the Adirondack Mountains in northwestern New York State hoping to see the fall colors again. We were not disappointed.  The hillsides in upstate New York were covered with trees in bright, vibrant colors.  We intentionally drove on the smaller country roads so we could see them up close and admire the beautiful scenery.  The further north we drove, the brighter the colors became. Guide books and web sites try to predict when the fall colors will be at their peak.  On both trips, we found that the week before and the week after Columbus Day are the best.  Both the temperatures and the moisture influence the changing of the leaves.  We were fortunate that both the rain and the temperatures cooperated to paint this beautiful landscape. We don’t experience the four seasons in Southern California.  The local mountains do get some snow and the high Sierras can get a lot of it.  But we are fortunate to have a moderate climate that makes us the envy of the nation. Our weather for the New Year’s Day Rose Parade is usually clear, sunny and in the 70’s, while most of the country is buried in snow!  I suppose that is why most of us live here.  The climate is hard to beat. However, there is something to be said in favor of Fall and Winter.  When you see the color of the fall leaves blanketing the hillsides of New England and New York, you do realize why people actually enjoy “four seasons”.  The beauty is difficult to describe and impossible to capture on your smartphone or camera.  It really is amazing! There is a verse in the Bible that says, “God has created everything for us to enjoy” (I Timothy 4:3-4).  The passage is actually referring to the food that God provides for us.  But, I think the principle can apply to the beauty of the world we live in too. God did not create a dull, drab grey world.  In His infinite wisdom, He crafted a world with an endless variety of creatures and colors for us to admire and enjoy.  Let me encourage you to find some fall colors near you before they are gone.  You don’t need to travel to New England or New York.  The leaves are changing in our local mountains and all across our country.  Make time to go and see some for yourself.  You will be glad you did!

This article was written by Pastor Mark Hopper, efree Church of Diamond Bar, 3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd, 909-594-7604, Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM, Efreedb.org

 

Family Connections

By Mark Hopper

My wife and I recently traveled to upstate New York to see Niagara Falls.  In addition, we drove across the state to visit some family members near Albany.  My wife was born in Long Island, NY, but moved west with her parents when she was a young girl. When her family moved to Arizona in the late 1950’s, they left behind extended family members like grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who remained near the east coast.

Over the years, there were phone calls and letters, but very little direct contact between the relatives in the east and relatives in the west. Some of the extended family attended a family wedding in Arizona in the 1970’s and there were a couple of visits by the Arizona clan to the east.  But, the contact was limited while parents were busy raising families in different parts of the country.

The internet and Facebook have helped to reconnect my wife with some of her east coast relatives.  They have been able to share pictures and update one another on their families. Our visit to Albany reunited my wife with a cousin that she had not seen on over 40 years.  It was a happy reunion.  In addition, another cousin drove up from Long Island and completely surprised my wife. They had a lot of catching up to do. Conversations included the death of parents, the marriages of children and the births of grandchildren.

One of the cousins had a photo album filled with old pictures.  This album belonged to their grandfather and included some photos that my wife had never seen before.  It was filled with memories and images that helped deepen her understanding of her heritage and extended family.

Hopefully, the cousins won’t wait another 40 years to re-connect with each other.  In fact, there is already talk of another reunion on the west coast next year. Are there some friends or relatives that you have not seen in a long time?  The years pass quickly.  The internet can help, but it takes time and effort to stay connected with people.

Let me encourage you to call or email a friend or family member this week.  There may be an old neighbor that would love to hear from you.  Don’t miss the opportunity to reach out and re-connect with someone soon.  They will be glad you did and you will too.

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-860-9556

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

Don’t Laugh

By Mark Hopper

 

Recently we had a clean up day to get ready for our church’s 50th birthday party.  There was one specific area on our property that really needed some sprucing up. The ground cover was thinning out and we agreed to order some new mulch and bark to make it look better.The area that we targeted was on the southwest edge of our property.  We refer to it as the “point” on the right side of the driveway that exits our site.  It is an odd shape – not quite a triangle but certainly not a clean square or rectangle.  One of the men agreed to order the mulch if I could just give him the dimensions of the area to be covered. The site was too large for a tape measure, so I simply walked over the space estimating that my step or stride would be about 3 feet long.  That is what golfers do on the fairway to estimate their distance to the green.  Find a fixed distance on the fairway and then “walk it off” to your golf ball.  By adding or subtracting your steps, you would get a pretty accurate distance to the green, sounded pretty simple to me.  So I “walked off” the length and width of the area to be covered with mulch and came up with a number that I shared with the man ordering the material.  He gave my estimate to the supplier and they ordered the bark / mulch. I was a little surprised when I heard how many bags of mulch the supplier was sending, Using the information I gave him, he estimated that we would need about 400 bags of mulch.  Four hundred bags!!  That was certainly more bags than I thought we would need, but remember, I was only the “estimator”.  The mulch man was the expert.  Who was I to question his knowledge and experience?When I told our crew of volunteers how many bags that we had ordered, they laughed!  Four hundred bags of mulch for that small area.  They all thought I was crazy.  But, it was too late to back down now.  The delivery truck was on the way with 400 bags of mulch and bark. When the delivery truck arrived at our church, it was loaded with pallets of material.  Most of it was for us!  It was a full-size 18 wheeler flat bed truck.  I can’t even describe how big it looked piled high with pallets of mulch!  The truck was so big, it had difficulty pulling into our parking lot! Did I mention that the truck driver had to use a fork lift to off load the pallets onto our parking lot?  I think there were 4-5 pallets.  Each of them taller than any man on our crew.  Four hundred bags of mulch on 4 or 5 pallets taller than us.  That was an impressive sight! Fortunately, the crew of volunteers took it all in stride.  They continued to poke fun at me for my extravagant estimate but they graciously unloaded the bags of mulch and spread them over the target area.  We all agreed that the new mulch and bark looked great. As we neared the end of the project, I did point out to the team that we were not short on materials!  We had plenty of mulch!  In fact, we had enough mulch to also fill all of the flower beds at our church with a plenty to spare!  I’m sure that the event committee was pleased to see 400 bags of new mulch enhancing the appearance of our property just in time for our 50th birthday party. I think we all can learn a lesson from this experience.  When in doubt, order more than less.  Trust the experts.  Trust your instincts.  Don’t worry if you order too much mulch.  My new slogan is, “You can never have too much mulch”! Let me again invite you to our church’s 50th birthday party on Saturday, October 21st.  Free food and activities begin at 1:00 PM with the main event from 4:30 – 6:00 PM.  I hope you will come and enjoy this special day with us.  And, come see the new mulch, too!

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

A People, Not a Steeple

By Mark Hopper

 

I have shared in my last few articles that our church’s 50th birthday party is coming up on Saturday, October 21st.  I was asked to look through some old photos and put together a short visual history of our church.

I enjoyed my assignment and spent several hours looking through many photos that went back to early days of Diamond Bar.

There were pictures of the original Diamond Bar Ranch property.  In the 1970’s our church held Sunday Services in one of the buildings there.

I also found pictures of the construction of each of the church building on the site from the 1980’s and 1990’s.  There were also photos of the parking lot expansion and the new children’s play yard.  There was a lot of building activity during those years.

As I looked through hundreds of photographs, I was reminded that many faithful people have been part of our church over the past 50 years.  There were some pictures of people that I did not recognize.  And, there were dozens and dozens of photos of people that I did know personally.

These pictures brought back many special memories.  Pictures of church dinner-dances and baby dedications.  Pictures of summer Vacation Bible School programs and baptisms at the beach in Corona Del Mar.  Pictures of Couple’s Retreats and Christmas programs and Easter services.

One of the things I noticed was how young we all looked 20, 30, 40 years ago.  It was also fun to see the different hair styles and the different clothes that people wore.  The cars in the parking lot looked different, too.

I was reminded that a church is a group of people not a building or a steeple.  Certainly, I am thankful for our facilities.  But, the real core of our church is the people.  Faithful people who have attended regularly, served faithfully and given generously.  People of all ages and stages of life – children, students, single adults, married couples, widows and widowers.  The people who share a common goal to know Jesus and make Him known.

I suppose that we all need to be reminded from time to time, that it is the people in our lives that are really important.  It is not the size of our homes or the success of our careers or the level of our education.  We should value the people in our lives not the volume of our possessions.

Let me encourage you to express your love and appreciation to the people in your life.  Maybe it is time to write a note to an old friend and tell them how much they have meant in your life.  You will be glad you did and they will too!

Let me again extend an invitation to you to come and celebrate our church’s birthday on Saturday, October 21st.  There will be free food and activities starting at 1:00 PM with the main event from 4:30 – 6:00 PM.  Check out our web site for more details. I hope we will see you there!

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

efreedb.org

A Special Birthday- Part 2

By Mark Hopper

 

The idea of starting a new church in Diamond Bar was the dream of a man named Wally Norling. He was the District Superintendent of the Evangelical Free Church in Southern California.  He loved to plant new churches in new communities that were popping up all over Southern California 50 years ago. Wally personally approached a few families and individuals and challenged them to start a church in Diamond Bar.  Two families already lived in Diamond Bar, another family lived in Rowland Hiehgts and another in La Habra Heights.  They did not have the backing or support of any other church.  They were on their own. This small group of people accepted the challenge and set out to start a new Evangelical Free Church in Diamond Bar.   In my previous article I shared about how this small group grew during the following decade under the leadership of several pastors including Pastor Scott Owsley and Pastor Steve Campbell. They met in a number of different locations until they were given the property on Diamond Bar Blvd by a generous contractor in 1980.  The first building was completed in 1983.

 

Pastor Steve Campbell continued to lead the church until 1987.  Steve and his wife Peggy faithfully served at the church for over 10 years.  In 1988, the church invited my wife and I to come from Arizona to serve as the next Pastor of Diamond Bar Efree Church.  It was a new adventure to leave our roots in Arizona and move with our four kids to Diamond Bar, California. As the church continued to grow, we lacked adequate classroom space for the children of young families.  One solution was to rent the Peppertree Preschool around the corner on Brea Canyon Road to help meet this pressing need.  We also launched a new building campaign to construct an education building on our property.  Instead of borrowing money, we decided to build “pay-as-you-go”.  We were amazed at the generosity of people in our church and the many unexpected gifts that enabled us to complete this project debt free in 1991.

Not only did the new two-story education building provide additional classroom space, it also enabled us to open a Preschool.  Mrs. Jean Thornton agreed to serve as the first preschool director and opened the school in 1991 with about 15 students.  The preschool eventually grew to three classes and over 50 children meeting five days a week from 8:30 AM – noon.

 

During the 1990’s, our church began to send out short-term mission teams to serve alongside missionaries around the world.  Our first two-week team went to Guatemala to help construct a school building in 1992. In the following years, we also sent teams across the border to help build homes in Mexico.  Other teams went to Russia, Romania, Kenya, Korea and other countries to serve in various kinds of ministries. As our church continued to grow in the 90’s, we realized we needed more classroom space.  The Hughes Aircraft Comapny was closing a plant in Fullerton and offered some of their portable modular units to non-profit groups for one dollar each.  However, we did have to pay to have these units moved and for the clean up of the old site and for set up on our property.   We remodeled these large modular buildings into four large classrooms on our property.

 

Near the end of the 90’s we knew we needed a larger worship center and more classrooms.  In 1998, we broke ground on the largest building on our site – the Familiy Worship Center.  During the next eighteen months, the campus looked like a war zone.  The building site was surrounded by fences and piles of dirt and mud.  Equipment and building material covered our property. We had record rain fall in 1999 which slowed the work and delayed completion.  But, on Easter Sunday, 2000, the new worship center was finished and ready for use.  It was a day to remember!  Did I mention that underneath the worship center there is a lower level with eight large classrooms and additional restrooms.  (This allowed us to donate the modular units to a church in Rowland Heights). The Worship Center also has a large elevator that provides access to all the levels of the Worship Center and the Education building.

There are more stories to tell about the life of our church.  I hope to share more of our history in my next article.  Let me again invite you to come to our 50th birthday party on Saturday, October 21st.  There will free food and a variety of activities on our campus starting at 1:00 PM and the main event will be from 4:30 – 6:00 PM in the Worship Center.  We hope you will come!

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

The Solar Eclipse: Part 1

By Mark Hopper

 

I shared in a previous article that my wife and I were on our way to see the Solar Eclipse.  We sensed the excitement and anticipation as we waited at airports for our flight.  There was a “buzz” in the air.

We flew to Des Moines, Iowa, and spent two days with a friend and visited an older family member.  The next day, we drove our rental car from Iowa south to our destination in St. Joseph , Missouri.  I had researched the path of the total eclipse on the internet.  It was going completely across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina.

St. Joseph, Missouri was directly in the path of the eclipse.  This small city on the Missouri River had prepared for this event for several years.  They opened up a huge piece of land next to the regional airport.  They sold camp sites and parking spaces preparing for 20,000 people.  They did a very good job preparing for this invasion of out-of-state visitors.

One of the things that no one could prepare for was the weather.  Most websites predicted clear skies in the western states but more possibilities of clouds and rain in the central and eastern parts of the country.  Weather predictions for our area looked good.  They had been having a very dry summer and the forecasts anticipated nice, clear skies.

However, it rained heavily the first two nights we were in Des Moines.  Thunder storms unleashed a total of three inches of rain.  Not a good omen.   When we left Des Moines at 4:00 AM on the day of the eclipse, it was raining heavily.  But as we drove further south things looked better. The rain stopped but when the sun came up around 6:00 AM it was still cloudy.

We left extra early because we anticipated heavy traffic on Interstate 35.  We were surprised that the traffic was unexpectedly light!  We got to St. Joseph in less than three hours.  Things went smoothly.  The city of St. Joe was ready for all of the solar visitors like us.  But, the clouds lingered overhead as we parked our car at 7:30 in the morning.                                                                                It was a festive atmosphere at the viewing site.  People set up tents and lawn shade pop ups to provide some relief from the summer sun.  We met people who had come from Minnesota to Texas.  It was a friendly crowd.  Food vendors sold all kinds of goodies and my wife insisted that we purchase a T-shirt for me to remember this special event.  The shirt had an image of the total eclipse on the front and a map of the path of the eclipse on the back.

We sat down on our borrowed lawn chairs and waited for the big event.  We had come a long way to witness this once in a lifetime phenomenon.  I’ll share more with you in my next article.

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

Rescuing a Lizard

By Mark Hopper

I recently heard in the news that a woman called “911” because she was being strangled and bitten by her Boa Constrictor.  Fortunately, she was rescued by local law enforcement and survived this frightening event.

My story is on a much smaller scale and not as dramatic.  Actually, I was not attacked by a lizard.  I rescued a lizard!

When I went out to wash my car, I opened the front wrought iron gate to get the garden hose.  As I opened the gate, I noticed something unusual.  Something was caught on the bottom of the gate.  I thought is was a leaf or piece of paper.  But, when I looked closer, I realized it was a lizard.

I had attached some wire screen to the lower part of the front gate to keep rabbits from getting into my back yard.    The screen is made of wire with small squares about a quarter inch wide.

Unfortunately, the lizard got trapped in this wire screen and was unable to get free.  At first, I thought the lizard was dead.  He appeared lifeless and was not moving.  But he reacted quickly when I touched him.  Thankfully, he was still alive.

How do you free a lizard who has squeezed himself into a fix like this?  I decided that surgery was required.  I went into the garage and found a small pair of wire cutters.  I went back to the gate and began to cut the wire screen around the lizard being careful to not injure my small friend.

I felt a little like one of those technicians you see in the movies who defuse bombs.  They have to carefully cut each wire without detonating the device.  I finally cut the section of wire away from the gate.  Now I just needed to cut the last few pieces that were still holding the lizard.  With the precision of a brain surgeon, I cut each piece as carefully as possible.  Finally, the lizard broke free! Success!

Of course, after freeing my little friend, you would expect that he would stay behind to thank me.  But, that was not the case.  He quickly dashed off into the nearby bushes glad to be freed from this life threatening predicament.

I am glad that my rescue attempt and surgical strategy was a success.  I enjoy having lizards around the yard and I’m glad I was able to rescue this one.

I wonder how often God has rescued us from some unanticipated situations?  I wonder how often He has protected us from serious injury or an unforeseen problem that we are unaware of?

I do know that the Bible promises us that when we call on Him for help, He hears our prayers.  Psalm 145:18-20 says, “The Lord is near to those who call on Him…He will hear their cry and rescue them”.

But, don’t wait until a crisis comes into your life.  Call on God every day.  Begin and end each day with prayer.  He is near and He will hear every prayer!

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 &10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

A Can Of Paint

Pastor Mark Hopper

By Mark Hopper

 

I have discovered that after Spring cleaning comes Summer painting!  We recently hired some people to remodel our bathrooms.  The look great.  New fixtures, new tile and new paint!  It is amazing how nice they look. However, when you get new paint in one room, you notice how old the paint looks in the other rooms.  I guess it is like buying a new car.  You have no problem driving the older car with its scratches and dents until you see a new car parked next to yours.  The new car makes your car look older! Before the new painters worked on our two bathrooms, the old paint looked fine to me.  But, now, it is easy to notice how faded and old the existing paint looked and the new paint clearly looks better than the old.

So, we bought a can of new paint and started on other rooms in our house.  Actually, we purchased two cans.  One for the walls and the smaller can for the baseboards.  We also purchased new brushes, rollers and a new paint pan.  I forgot to buy some plastic gloves, but I was ready to take on the challenge! When my wife and I were newlyweds, we bought some inexpensive paint from a local store.  The color looked good and the price was low.  But, we quickly learned that the cheaper paint was not a good idea.  When we used a paint roller with the thin, cheap paint, we were soon covered with speckles of paint.  I think we got more paint on ourselves than on the wall!  I suspect this happens to all rookie painters. This time we bought some good quality paint.  It went on smoothly with very little mess.  This paint was much thicker and covered very well.  The new paint looked great and my wife was really pleased.

It is interesting how a coat of paint can change and transform the appearance of a room in your house.  Everything looks better.  The room looks bigger and cleaner.  The color looks more vivid and brighter.  New paint really does make a difference!  A can of paint can literally transform the appearance of a room.

I don’t know of many verses in the Bible that talk about paint.  Most houses were made of mud bricks with wooded logs, sticks and branches for a roof.  Most were not “painted”.  However, some buildings were covered with “whitewash” – similar to our paint. Jesus refers  to religious hypocrites as “whitewashed tombs”.  In Bible times, it was common to bury dead bodies in small caves – often several bodies in one tomb.  Over time, the bodies would decay and the bones would remain.   Sometimes people would “paint” the entrance of the cave with “whitewash”. Jesus accused the religious hypocrites of looking beautiful on the outside but he said they were spiritually dead on the inside. ( Matthew 23:27 / Acts 23:3).  Jesus said they were like “whitewashed” tombs. I wonder what Jesus would say about you and me today?  Do we look good on the outside, but is the inside of our heart, mind and soul pleasing to God?  Do we appear religious and kind on the outside, but are we unkind hypocrites on the inside?

At the same time, the Bible does remind us that God can take the worst sinner and transform him or her into a beautiful person.  In a small letter in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote, “When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us – not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy.  God saved us through the washing of rebirth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). God can transform the worst of us – inside and out – when we acknowledge our sins and we accept Jesus as our personal savior.  The Bible says that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins and he rose again to purchase a place for us in heaven.

A can of paint can dramatically change the appearance of a room.  New paint can cover a multitude of smudges, scratches and hand prints.  However, spiritually speaking, we need a new “paint job” on the inside!  Paint is only an exterior cover.  Grace and faith in Jesus are what can change us on the inside! If you want to change the appearance of your home, buy a can of paint.  If you want to change the condition of your heart, start by confessing your sins to God and by placing your faith in Jesus today. You will be glad you did and He will too!

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 &10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

A Manila Envelope

By Mark Hopper

 

Recently, I received a large Manila envelope in the mail from my brother.  He is my favorite brother. Actually, he is my only brother! He sends me a birthday card every year and signs it – “Your Favorite Brother”. I wasn’t sure what he was sending me .  My birthday is in August.  I knew it was too early and too big for a birthday card.  So I was curious.  What was in this large envelope? He must have been cleaning out some old files and boxes, because he sent me some old photos and newspaper clippings.  I suspect that these were things that my father and mother collected over the years.  My brother must have found them as he cleaned out some files after they died.

There were some real treasures among the things he sent.  There were pictures of our children when they were in elementary school.  There were a few pictures of some family gatherings.  And, there was a picture of my brother and me and our wives with my dad after our mother had died.  There were a few photos of my wife and I with my parents at my graduation from seminary in 1975.

The envelope also contained some old newspaper clippings of me when I was in high school and college.  One news article was about a good looking young man who had been named “Newspaper Boy of the Year” in Phoenix Arizona by the Arizona Republic in 1968.  That good looking guy was me!  There was a nice picture of me receiving this special award.  According to the article there were over 2,000 newspaper carriers in Phoenix at that time.  Somehow, the Arizona Republic selected me!

Another newspaper article reported that two young men had been selected to represent Arizona at the annual “Boys Nation” gathering in Washington, DC in July, 1968.  The American Legion sponsored “Boys State” in all fifty states each year.  In each state, young leaders gathered on a college campus to learn about leadership and government.  They  held elections and selected representatives for the various branches of state government.  I was one of over 300 young men who attended the Arizona Boys State convention in 1968.  I was one of the two young men selected to go to Boys Nation in Washington, DC.  That brought back many memories.  During that week in Washington, we met with President Johnson in the White House Rose Garden.  We also met with Vice President Hubert Humphrey later that week.  We had private tours of the nation’s Capitol, the White House, the  Pentagon and the State Department.  It was a week that I will always remember.

There were a few other items in that large Manila envelope.  There were a few cards written by our mother.  There was my second grade spelling book.  I don’t think my parents saved my report cards.  That is probably best! There are many passages in the Bible that urge us to remember our past and reflect on God’s blessings.  The Bible also instructs us to share these stories with our children and grandchildren.  In the book of Deuteronomy chapter six it says, “Teach your children and talk about these things when you are at home or out for a walk – at bed time or the first thing in the morning”. I am confident that you probably have some envelopes and files at your house that contain some family treasures.  Let me encourage you to get them out and take some time to share them with  your immediate and extended family.   They will be glad you did and you will too!

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 &10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

Hayden & Rhodes

By Pastor Mark Hopper

 

For decades states along the Colorado River like California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Colorado had fought in court over how much water each of them should receive from the the river.  In the 1960’s the United States Supreme Court determined that Arizona was entitled to a specific amount of water each year. That major decision opened the way for the building of a canal to bring water from the Colorado River to Phoenix and eventually to Tucson.  The canal was called the Central Arizona Project.  During the following decade, the federal government voted to spend millions of dollars to construct this aquaduct across the Arizona desert.

Previously, most of the water in Phoenix came from the Salt and Verde rivers.  Huge dams along those rivers captured and stored water that was eventually funneled into Phoenix through a network of canals. Most of the water used in Tucson came from underground aquafirs.  Water was pumped by farmers and municipalities to provide water for growing crops and serving those living in the greater Tucson area. The Central Arizona Project canal dramatically increased the available water supply to Phoenix and Tucson and to farmers and ranchers throughout central and southern Arizona.

Recently, my wife and I were driving across the desert between Arizona and California on Interstate 10.  This four lane highway crosses over the canal several times.  As we drove over the canal I noticed a sign that read, “Hayden / Rhodes Memorial Aquaduct”.  These two men had led the effort to get the federal funding needed to build the canal.

Carl Hayden was a Senator from Arizona.  In the 1960’s he was the oldest senator in the US Senate.  He was not the majority leader, but he was the oldest and longest serving senator at that time.  I actually had lunch with him in the Senate dining room in the US Capitol when I was a high school student. John Rhodes was a congressman from Arizona in the United States House of Representatives.  He was also the Minority leader in the House,  a very influential position in his party.

Carl Hayden was the leading Democrat in the Senate. John Rhodes was the leading Republican in the House.  They worked together to gain the financial support of the federal government to build the Arizona canal. They were from opposite political parties.  I think Hayden would have been called a moderate or liberal and Rhodes a moderate or conservative.  But, they found a way to work together for the benefit of the people of Arizona.  I’m sure that they had their differences.  I’m sure they did not always vote the same way on every issue.  But, they found a way to work together.

I think many people today are confused and concerned about the polarization in our political system.  Each party accuses the other of misdeeds and misguided ideologies.  Insults are aired on the floor of the House and Senate and in the media. I wonder how we can begin to come together as a country?  How can we put aside the volume of anger and accusations?  How can our leaders find a way to build consensus and compromise? I don’t expect everyone to agree on every topic or piece of legislation. I believe we do need to maintain our values and convictions. But, I think we need more people like Carl Hayden and John Rhodes in our halls of government who are committed to work together for the good of our nation.

I also believe that some prayer would help, too.  The Apostle Paul instructed followers of Jesus to pray for those in postions of authority and government.  He wrote these words in his letter to his young friend Timothy when there was social and political division within the Roman Empire. Let me challenge you to pray for our country.  Pray for those in positions of leadership.  Pray that our country and our citizens will find ways to work together to strengthen the unity of our great nation.

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 &10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

Men and Women

By Mark Hopper

My wife and I recently enjoyed a restful vacation at an older beach community.  The setting was lovely and the weather was great.  We really enjoyed our time there. We stayed at a condo a short walk from the beach.  Sometimes we would drive to a nearby coffee shop or breakfast place to start our day.  As we drove along, we noticed that there were a lot of people wallking and jogging on the sidewalks just above the beach. There were men and women of all ages.  Some were walking alone and others with a partner or two.  Some of the women were pushing high tech baby strollers with bicycle type tires and streamlined contours.  They sure look different than the four-wheeled strollers we used when our kids were young!   There were a lot of older adults out too early but very few teens!

As we observed this early morning activity, my wife and I began to wonder if there were more men or more women involved in this daily routine.  So, we started counting.  Each day we made a mental note if we saw more men or more women.  What do you think we learned? Almost every day, there were more women than men walking or jogging along the street.  I think there was one day where the men won, but most of the time there were more women walking, running and exercising.  I must admit that I was a little surprised.  I thought that the men would be out exercising and that the women would be home making breakfast and taking care of the kids or grandkids. I was wrong.  The women consistently outnumbered the men.  Younger women were jogging along the sidewalk wearing stylish shorts and tops with their hair in a pony tail.  They had a bounce in their step and looked like they had already been to the gym.  Older women were walking at a slower pace but seemed to be enjoying the beautiful scenery and conversation with a friend.

We did see some younger men wearing conventional shorts and not wearing shirts.  They looked pretty “buff” and were very sweaty (sp).  Older men were typically walking alone at a slower pace.  And, there were some couples walking or jogging together, too. I suspect that most of the men were still in bed or at best sitting in their PJ’s drinking a cup of coffee on the veranda (sp) back at their condo.  Maybe the younger men were already too busy playing games on their computers or smart phones.  Some of the men may have been on the phone talking with their office back home.

It seemed clear to my wife and I that the women were on the move and the men were not.  I wonder if this is true at the local gym too? Are there more women than men at 24 Hour Fitness?  Do the women outnumber the men at Crunch or LA Fitness too? I wonder if this is true in our country?  Are the men sleeping in and the women out exercising?  Have the men become couch potatoes?  Are the women in our country setting the pace when it comes to exercise and better health? I realize that our survey does not meet scientific standards and may not be completely accurate.  We were just one couple in one community observing human behavior for one week.  Obviously more study needs to be done in this area. You need to draw your own conclusions.

My conclusion is this – two cheers for the active women.  Keep it up – you are doing great!  My challenge for the men is – get out of bed, get off the couch and get out the door.  Join a gym or find a jogging partner.   Both men and women of all ages need regular exercise.  It is good for the body, mind and soul.  Take the first step toward better health this week!  You will be glad you did and your family will too.

Pastor Mark Hopper
Efree Church of Diamond Bar
3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd
Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM
Efreedb.org 

A Bird In The Hand

By Mark Hopper

 

There is a familiar saying that says, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.  Basically it means that it is better to hold on to something you already have than to risk losing it by trying to get something more. I have come up with a better slogan, “A bird in the house is worse than two in the bush”.  During the past few months several birds have built nests in the rafters of our patio.  We enjoy watching the progress of nest building and the birth of new baby birds.  However, we don’t enjoy the mess that they make and leave behind.

One day we were surprised to see a new nest on top to the porch light next to our patio sliding door.  How did that happen?  The mother bird has been faithfully sitting on the nest.  But every time someone opens the patio door, she is frightened and quickly flies away. Recently, someone went out to the patio for a moment and forgot to close the door.  As usual the mother bird was started and quickly took flight.  But, instead of flying away, she flew into our house!  Suddenly we had an unexpected visitor.  The bird was frightened and confused.  We were also frightened and concerned.  What are we going to do with a wild bird in our house?  How do you get an uninvited guest to leave? Family members quickly sprang into action.  The grandkids opened the front door and the other two sliding doors in the house hoping the bird would use one of these safe exits.  One of the adults starting waving their hands trying to persuade the bird out of the house. Another adult grabbed a small blanket and held it up to try to block the bird from going further into the house.  To our surprise, the bird landed on the blanket and seemed to calm down.  Then the adult slowly walked toward an open door and gave the blanket a gentle shake and the bird flew away. Success!

I suspect most of you have had an unexpected guest in your house, too.  One time we had a skunk in our house.  You may have had a mouse, lizard, snake or other non-domesticated creature, too. I think most of these critters prefer the outdoors instead of indoor your house.  It can be a challenge keeping them out and it can be exciting getting them out when they find their way into your home. Jesus told his followers that our Heavenly Father knows how many hairs each of us has on our head and He knows when every Sparrow falls.  Since He knows every detail of our lives, I’m sure He knows when a bird finds its way into our house, too!   I’m not sure which is better –  the bird in the hand verses two birds in the bush.  But, I am certain that a bird in the house is worse than two birds in the bush.

Pastor Mark Hopper
Efree Church of Diamond Bar
3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd
Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM
Efreedb.org 

Memorial Day

By Pastor Mark  Hopper

My wife and I visited Arlington Cemetery with our children many years ago.  It is a vast area outside of Washington, D.C., where thousands of military veterans are buried.   It is one of the best known cemeteries in our country.  Both Privates and Presidents are buried there.

Our family has also visited the military cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  A bloody military battle was fought at Gettysburg during our nation’s Civil War in 1863.  The headstones list the names of each soldier and the states where these fallen veterans were from.

About ten years ago, my son and I had the opportunity to visit the beaches of Normandy, France.  This was the location of the largest amphibious invasion in history.  Troops from Canada, England, America, Australia, New Zealand and other allied nations came ashore to begin the liberation of occupied Western Europe.

Above the wide sandy beach is the American military cemetery.  My son and I walked through the endless rows of Crosses and Stars of David that mark each burial plot.  It is a stark reminder of the high price that was paid by American soldiers and sailors to secure a beachhead in France in 1944.  The war in Europe ended a year later.

Did you know that there are also military veteran cemeteries here in Southern California?  There is a National Cemetery in West Los Angeles and another in Riverside.  There are also military cemeteries in San Diego.

All of these cemeteries are dedicated to honoring the men and women who have served in our nation’s military.  Some of these people died in battle.   Many more survived their military service and have been buried in a veteran’s cemetery at the end of their lives.

On the last Monday in May, our nation celebrates Memorial Day to honor and remember the men and women who lost their lives serving in our nation’s military.  It is a day to reflect on the lives that have been lost and the price that has been paid to defend our nation’s freedom.

Someone said that “freedom is not free.” The freedoms that we enjoy everyday are a result of the sacrifice of men and women who have served in our nation’s military.

During the last few days in May, you will see American flags in many local cemeteries.  Thousands of volunteers from various service organizations give their time to place American flags on the graves of military veterans.

I hope that you will pause and reflect on what these flags represent.  Take a moment to remember those who have served in our nation’s military.  Take a moment to appreciate the sacrifice of those who died in military service.

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

A Cow Bell

By Pastor Mark Hopper

Many years ago my wife and I and a group of adults from our church traveled to Romania.  We worked in partnership with a young pastor and growing church in the middle of the country.

In addition to visiting their church in the city of Cluj, we spent a week together in a rural village near the Transylvania mountains.

A number of young couples participated in a week-long marriage retreat.

In addition to daily discussions on marriage, there was also time for recreation and relaxation.  The Romanians were just as competivte as Americans.  Coed volleyball games were enjoyed by all of us.

One day during the week, I saw a line of cows walking down a dirt road near the field where we were playing volleyball.

The lead cow had a small brass bell hanging from a strap around his neck.  He was leading the other cows back into the village at the end of the day from the grassy fields nearby.

I told the members of our team that we were going to continue to play volleyball until the “cows come home”.  They didn’t know how accurate my prediction was.  We ended the game a few minutes later after the cows passed by us on the dirt road.

Recently while I was playing with our granddaughter at our house,  she had discovered a small cow bell on a self in our bedroom.  She was intrigued by its size and sound.  She didn’t know that this small bell was a gift from our friends in Romania.

I had not noticed that bell for years, but it immediately brought back fond memories of our trip to Romania and the wonderful friends we met there many years ago.

You probably have some keepsakes and souvenirs that remind you of people and events in your life.  You may have a picture or a plaque that brings back special memories of places you have been.

In one example in the Bible,  the people of Israel piled up twelve large boulders along the bank of the Jordan River.  These large stones were to serve as a reminder that the Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry ground (Joshua chapter 4).These large stones were to remind future generations of this remarkable event in their nation’s history.

I think we all need visual, tangible objects to help us remember special events and special people in our lives.  You probably have some things around your house – pictures, trophies, and souveniours.  Let me encourage you to take some time this week to look around your house or office and reflect on the memories you find there.

Take time to tell your children and grandchildren the meaning and significance of some of the things that are hanging on your walls or sitting on the shelves in your house.  Maybe it is time to add a few new ones while you have the time.  You will be glad you did and they will too!

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

(909) 594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

Looks Can Be Deceiving

By Mark Hopper

 

My wife and I have been to a number of different countries around the world.  Recently, we were in Central Europe.  It is beautiful.  The mountains are snow capped and the hillsides are lush and green.

Many of the buildings are hundreds of years old, especially in the older established parts of major cities.  Many of these buildings have been repaired and restored.  They look impressive and distinguished.

But, when you get up close, it is surprising to see that some paint or plaster has deteriorated.  It is surprising to find red clay bricks beneath the exterior facade. It is amazing to discover that many beautiful buildings, palaces and cathedrals are built with small, red, clay bricks! The craftsmen and engineers certainly did wonderful work.  But, hidden beneath the exterior beauty of these buildings are thousands of clay bricks cemented together. Looks can be deceiving!

There are passages in the Bible that instruct us to not base our opinion of other people simply on their exterior characteristics.  James warns us to not treat a person differently because of the new or older clothing they wear.  The Prophet Samuel was also warned to not draw conclusions based on a person’s size, strength or physical ability.

The Bible says that man looks on the outside, but God looks at the heart.  I wonder how often you and I are guilty of doing the opposite?  Do we form an opinion of a person by the clothes they wear or the color of their skin or by the kind of car they drive? I wonder if we disregard an older person because of the color of their gray hair or the number of wrinkles on their face? I wonder if we overlook a teen or young adult because of the clothes they wear and the way they talk?

Let me encourage you to not draw conclusions or form opinions of others because of their external characteristics.  We call this “prejudice”.  It means to pre-judge someone before you really get to know them. Let me encourage you to really get to know people.  Learn what is on the inside.  Listen to their words and opinions.  Observe their actions and see how they treat other people.  Look for the hidden qualities of their heart.  They will be glad you did and you will too!

 

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

(909) 594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

EFreedb.org