Saturday, March 28, 2015

BONUS ROUND!--by Linden Malki

We often learn things about people at the end of their earthly lives that enrich our memories and our understanding of life.   We see the term "Celebration of Life", an appropriate description of the gathering of friends and family to say a final farewell.  I have been to several such services in the past two months, and they all fit this description. They were people that I had known in various ways; several though the church, as well as family members.  Something that they all had in common was that in the last ten or fifteen years they had all had new and happy doors open in their lives.  Two  had remarried after a long-time good marriage that had ended in a loss.  My nephew remarried in his 50's;  she was a beautiful, vibrant lady who, despite an illness, gave him fourteen years of happiness and many great memories. One friend had survived changes and found peace in her life.  My brother-in-law had not only survived major health issues but had seen closed ministry doors lead to new and amazing opportunities.

At Roland Kelley's service yesterday,  I heard several friends and relatives say that they had never seen  Waneta as happy as she had been in her last years with Roland--a truly blessed and surprising fifteen years.  And Red and Dona Yetter were obviously good for each other.  I am reminded of a friend of my parents'  at our church in Spokane;  she was a widow in very poor health. Among the church folks watching out for her was a widower, and they got married.  It made made an amazing difference; she was back on her feet and in church every Sunday for another 16 years and I recall the bright flowered dresses and hats she liked to wear.   God can give his people surprises, and can bring inspiring loves and years beyond expectation and logic. 

In the midst of all the homegoings, I was privileged to see another kind of second chance. My daughter remarried in January, and I have never seen a smile on her face as big as the one in her wedding pictures. He is a sweet, godly man and a great addition to the family.

We are coming up on the greatest story of God's surprises:  Jesus' followers were preparing their own final service to their leader, when everything changed.  God showed that death is not the end; that His answer to our troubles and mourning is victory over sin and death. He offers us not only more than we imagine, but more than we are able to imagine! He offers us release from sadness, from time itself; from all the imperfections and shortcomings of our human selves, just as a sunrise is more beautiful through the clouds.

  Let us look forward to identifying with the events of the upcoming Holy Week, finishing with HIs sacrifice and then the realization that everything changed with the miracle of Easter morning! 

Saturday, March 21, 2015


“What can I give back to God for the blessings he’s poured out on me? I’ll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God! I’ll pray in the name of God; I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do, and I’ll do it together with his people. When they arrive at the gates of death, God welcomes those who love him. Oh, God, here I am, your servant, your faithful servant: set me free for your service! (Psalm 116:12-16 The Message) This last week a faithful servant was welcomed Home.  A long time in the making--almost 107 years.
Roland Kelley was a remarkable man. He was quiet, hardworking (spent years up at the Sierra Way church property on the landscaping and buildings, until he could no longer be up on a ladder). Smiling, friendly. always glad to see people.  Roland and his family were already at Calvary Baptist when I came here but he told me once that he had really wasn't on track with God until middle age. He asked to baptized again when he was in his 90's, because he said he hadn't really known what it was all about the first time. 
I had been acquainted with the Kelleys for years; had had several of the grandchildren in Sunday School and youth group. I got to know him better through Waneta, whom he married in 1999. Both widowed, they were a delightful couple, a great reminder that it’s never too late to love. Waneta had joined the choir when she came to Calvary. I was part of the team that organized the birthday party the church gave for his 100th birthday in 2008. The idea came up of including a sing-along of his favorite hymns and praise songs over his long life. Roland and Waneta and I made up a list of about ten songs, and Frank Zummo Jr and I led the singing. One of the songs we included was an oldie that we don't hear so much any more, but one of my own favorites: "In the Garden", which begins "I come to the garden alone..." Elden Smith, our choir director, had never heard it before, but very much liked it , and it is now part of our regular playlist. He always credits Roland for introducing it to him.
Waneta, who was singing with us at the time, suggested our small group sing for Roland's 102nd birthday party. We did a couple of Roland's favorites, and several people suggested that we should "take that show on the road." We had been talking about some sort of a community ministry, and the next fall began contacting care facilities about allowing us to present programs including traditional hymns, spirituals and country gospel favorites. We've been going out almost every month since, more during December, and one of our favorite places to go was the Kelley's--sometimes in the clubhouse at their mobile home park with our usual program, and sometimes more casually at their home. Roland always appreciated our old-time music; even two weeks ago he was singing along softly with some of it. He was a great encouragement to us, and a demonstration once again how one person can trigger things that expand in directions that can surprise us.

Monday, March 16, 2015


For the past five years NorthPoint has been on a journey of discovery.  We are a church committed to Soul Winning, Disciple Making, and Christ Following.  Pastor Paul has submitted our ministry model of Celebration, Life Groups, and Mentoring to his professors at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and they have responded by scheduling him for graduation on 5/15/15.

Dozens of people are now JumpStart mentoring as far away as Malawi, South Africa, Sierra Leone, West Africa, and Afghanistan.
Email and SKYPE make global mentoring possible.

Closer to home, Pastor Darrin Erb has been pioneering PathWays Academy on the Sierra Way property.  He is excited about the potential for reaching out and expanding in the 2015/2016 school year.  NorthPoint is exploring partnering with a Hispanic pastor to give our ministry a greater cultural diversity and outreach potential. The Way World Outreach is preparing to move into a large facility and NorthPoint worship team is filling up the platform at the Elks Lodge.  NorthPoint is moving into an amazing season of unity, and synergy. 

All of these things combined equal the need for a RESTART!  We are going to do that at 3701 N. Sierra Way on Sunday September 13, 2015.  The month of August will be about prayer, painting, planting, and preparing to LAUNCH a new season of ministry.

In 1965 Calvary Baptist Church moved North to Sierra Way.  Fifty years later NorthPoint Christian Fellowship is doing the same.  Join us in praying circles around the Sierra Way property and the future ministry of NorthPoint.  One season of ministry is ending, and RESTART is just beginning!

Blessings and love to you all,
Pastor Paul 

Friday, March 13, 2015

God's Spirals!--by Linden Malki

The idea of prayer circles has been an interesting concept; opening our eyes to what God lays on our hearts. As I look around at what I am led to be praying for, it's becoming less of a circle than a growing spiral--one that gets bigger as you move out, but is still one defining line.

The first thing we think about is individuals--family and friends, and our home: our first and most intimate layer. This grows out to our church, neighborhood, workplace, school-wherever we spend a good part of our days, but is still connected. They are part of a larger community--our city, which here in San Bernardino needs a lot of prayer! It keeps growing, but still connected; state, country, continent, region, world. Here the connections get more complicated--some are places and cultures we are familiar with, some are not. However. we are aware that events many miles away can have a profound influence on us. Again, it becomes larger and larger, but is still connected.

Taking a a closer look at Acts 1:8, the spiral that Jesus drew: first Jerusalem, where they were based, the center of their cultural and religious community. Jerusalem, however, was connected with a community that had members in all sorts of places--look at the languages and dialects mentioned in Acts 2:8-11!  And then Judea, where some of the most significant parts of Jesus' life and ministry  had happened; the next stretch of the string. Samaria is an interesting addition to the list; it was an area that Jesus had visited and had some response, but not one that would naturally occur to his disciples. However, when the persecutions began to scatter His followers, Samaria became a refuge and fertile field for them.  From there, they spread to Syria, Asia Minor (today's Turkey), Greece, Rome, Cyprus, Crete, Spain, Egypt and North Africa, Gaul (today's southern France), Britain, Persia, astonishing list. And in the centuries and millenia to come, it has spread to the most of the known world, although there are still places it has not reached or not taken root. So as we make our prayer circles, let them spread out and include more and more, especially places where we do have some knowledge and contacts--family, friends, missionaries; let God open your eyes to the growing spiral of places He leads you to pray for.

This next week includes a day dedicated to one of the most remarkable of God's servants, and we can see his circles grow. The man we know as St Patrick was born in Britain or Scotland, of a Christian family.  His circle expanded abruptly to include a pastured hillside in Ireland, where he was placed as a kidnapped slave. God then led him to a way to escape to Europe, where he made his way to Rome and a priestly education. Then back to Ireland, where his circles of influence grew until it encompassed all of the island.  One of his major interests was in discipling and mentoring students and followers, some of whom then found themselves led to Scotland and then back to the Continent, where they were able to bring learning and Scriptures to places that had suffered political and social collapse. And in the last two centuries, the waves of Irish immigration to the US has brought Patrick's faith a long ways!

 We are all where we are spiritually because someone's prayer circle touched us. God works not only in circles but in growing spirals; may our prayers grow with God's leading.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

What is God's Circle for Us?--by Linden Malki

What circles is God showing you?  God has given each of us individual talents, gifts, and circumstances. Our challenge is to recognize where He has put us, and how He is calling us to reach beyond ourselves to amazing places with His strength.

God called Abram, and promised to make him the father of a nation--and he was already an old man with no children. The rest of the Bible follows the enlarging circles of this man and his family from one man to not only a nation, but a kingdom that encompasses a world. God sent "His only Son" to save the world--a circle at a time. He commanded eleven men to pray with one hundred twenty people, to preach to thousands--His circles began with Judea, then Samaria, then the whole Roman Empire, and on to the farthest reaches of the world. In the history of God's work in the world, He calls people--individuals--who each have different abilities and potentials to move in growing circles and change their world in God's image. 

The new movie "McFarland USA" is a true story of how one man recognized the abilities and potential of seven teenagers to become not only a team, but winners who not only enlarged their own horizons, and the ripples brought a town together in support. There is one scene which the team was in a huddle, praying before a meet. It's not overtly mentioned, but it shows something happening beyond the limitations of ordinary people. In fact, C.S. Lewis once said that "There are no ordinary people."

One of my circles right now is the downtown block where I work. Every day, I drive around it and pray for each business and family on the block--that those who know God will be strenghened and those who don't will be reached; and that everyone who comes through our doors will be encouraged.  This city needs more people who pray for each other! God will fill in the circles with His work through us; He'll tell us what that looks like in His time.

As a church, we are prayerfully seeking to identify and grow into the next circle that God is preparing for our ministry. It's not about what we would like, but what God has for us. For that matter, as individuals, families, churches, communities, whatever circles we are in--this is always what it's truly about.