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This word becomes quite familiar during one's lifetime. We hear it as soon as we are able to become mobile and continue to hear it throughout our lifetimes.

I still remember hearing my parents saying no to me numerous times throughout my childhood. "No, you may not stay up late. No, you may not have that toy. No, you cannot stay out with your friends. No, you cannot have the car tonight."

Since becoming a father of two boys, I feel that I have said no more times than I heard the phrase in my youth. "No, stop hitting your brother. No, do not wear that dirty shirt. No, you may not go to the bathroom again (this by the way is usually a third request during the pastor's sermon)."

No, obviously, is seen as a negative. We quickly learn not to like hearing that word especially from a favorite toddler. Often times when we hear no, we get angry ourselves because no stops us from doing what we want to do. Astonishingly, no also protects from harm; no, you may not stick that penny in the socket. (You can decide if I heard that line, said that line, or both).

Lately, I have learned to appreciate a different side of no. No can be a spiritual response.

As you may know, I am the chair of this year's nominating committee. We have been hard at work this year putting together a slate of elders, deacons and now a PNC. We have made a lot of calls and have heard a fair share of no's. The funny thing is, the no's we have received come after the person has had time to pray over the decision. The person who is saying no is being led by the spirit to say no. (The Spiritual No). These no's are not negative but are revealing the path in which God wants us to take. The spirit, through these no's, leads us to whom God wants to call to serve His church. I have realized that this has been a blessing to the committee, and the committee is thankful to the spirit when we receive the no.

Jesus even received the spiritual no. Remember the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed until he bled for God to save him from his upcoming crucifixion. We all heard the no he received from God which ultimately lead to all of our salvation. A spiritual no can be categorized as an unanswered prayer as well. Garth Brooks reminds us in his song, "Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers."

I am grateful for all of the no's I have received in life and especially this past year. I have witnessed the spirit working in those no's to point the committee to the person God wants to have serve. God makes all things happen even through our no's. Our no's when in concert with the spirit, please God. Because the no serves his purpose, not ours.

I get the privilege of ending 2018 with this blog. I see God hard at work in our church; and I am excited to see what 2019 will bring. May God bless our First Presbyterian Church of Valparaiso Community in 2019, and may God bless you and yours this upcoming 2019 as well!


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