Article: It’s Time For Harvest! Part 2

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It’s Time For Harvest ! Part 2

It’s May 2016 and I’m excited about the future. In my January newsletter article I wrote, “At this time of the new year we make all sorts of time related statements and ask time related questions.”  One of the main questions for Community Covenant is, “I wonder what we are going to do to make a difference this year.”

As we push into the new year we are reminded of the call and command of Christ on our life and the opportunities to fulfill the mission of Christ. The call to tell the story of Jesus to the tri-county area that God has placed us in. To plant, cultivate, water, and harvest for Christ, is the direction we continue to go. It started in 1888 and we never want to lose that vision.

I then reflected on Harvest Time. I wrote,” Ever since I moved to the country I have loved harvest time.  There is something special about the crops being brought in after all the work that the partnership of God and the farmers do, is done. Truthfully, I prefer watching the big machines as they combine the golden grains. I love the newer S series John Deere because it has a futuristic look that reminds me of Star Wars.  I half expect to see Luke Skywalker stick his head out of the cab. The action of the harvest tells the story of a great purpose of the body of Christ, the church. There are key passages of scripture that encourage us to consider our life and purpose as it relates to harvest. Jesus speaks of his when he tells of the need for all of us to get involved in telling the good news of the Gospel.  35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” (John 4)

The desire to make a difference and the passion for evangelism is taking a newer form for our church and community. It’s newer in it’s structure, not in it’s intent. For since the days of the revival of 1898 and the conversion of Whiskey Pete and his compatriots, evangelism has been in the hearts of the Upsala Community.

On January 24 we had our first meeting at Word of Life Lutheran Church to investigate a community partnership in evangelism. Since that first meeting we have prayed, discussed, trained and formalized the direction of this evangelism partnership. The name “The Bridge” was given to the team of men and women who are a part of this harvest team. The name comes from the plan of God in Christ, in which the cross became the bridge from death to life.

Pastor Clayton Wilfer from Word of Life has given great leadership to us as we have moved forward in this intentional and strategic evangelism movement.

We now have completed the preparation phase of this movement and are heading out to meet, share the Gospel and pray with many of our neighbors in this area.  We currently have 9 teams of 2 and 5 individuals who are committed to going out to meet people at their homes and in the community. If you would like to join in and be willing to share the good news of Jesus, please let me know.

As a team of believers sharing Christ we are trying to keep track of the number of conversations we are having with our friends, neighbors, co-workers and strangers. Every one is called to make disciples so if you have a conversation let me know. If God is talking to you about  sharing to your neighbors about Christ don’t wait to join the “Bridge”, go and tell the story.

Paul explains it best in his letter to the Corinthians .

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s
fie
ld, God’s building.(1 Corinthians  3)

We praise God for what he is doing among us. I invite you to join us in this  harvest adventure. Call if you have questions.

Pastor Craig

 

Article: Walking with the Risen Christ

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13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19 “What things?” he asked. “

At that point in the text, the two men shared all that had happened over the weekend. Then Jesus explained all the prophecies that he fulfilled. When they got to their house, they asked Jesus to stay with them. When they broke bread this amazing event concluded the story.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

What an amazing story after the resurrection. Can you even begin to imagine, what it would have been like, to walk with the risen Lord? What would it have been like to sense our hearts burning as we heard the Lord? Just think if you had been there.

The truth is we don’t have to wonder. We have the same ability to walk, with Jesus our risen Lord, just like the two men on the road to Emmaus. No, we don’t physically see him, but he has promised to be with us every step of the way. We can get up in the morning, walk and talk with him each and every day.  His promise to his disciples, in the sending of the great commission, was simply  “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28

We have known those in our congregation, most who have moved to heaven, who really walked closely with God. They talked with God in a daily conversation, just like the disciples in our Bible Story. Many of them walked through the deep valleys of life, but came out stronger because they were not alone at anytime.

I would encourage you this month, to begin to walk and talk with your Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Walking  and talking with the risen Lord will surely get your heart burning.

~ Pastor Craig

 

Article: The Traveling Team

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Through out the years in our community, being on a sports team has been important. I loved hearing the stories from our community about folks who played for the school back in the 1930’s. One of our saints, Ethel Nelson, played in those days and enjoyed competing and being a part of the team. In recent days not only do our kids play on the school team they also get to play on special traveling teams to really gear up their game. They play against good competition and sharpen their game as they head out to new towns almost every weekend.

In our walk with Christ this Lenten season, we can think of ourselves as being on a another team as well. So I ask the question, “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be on the traveling team with Jesus?”

In a true fact of faith the disciples of long ago had an adventure of a life time as they walked and learned from Jesus. The term disciple actually means learner. Through the cities towns and hillsides they spent hour after hour with Jesus. Arguing with the religious leaders, feeding thousands and healing many. You could say they had the most incredible traveling team ever.

It’s the journey of that team that I want to highlight in these next few weeks as we set our sights on Easter. We are going to take at look at events from the life of Jesus as told to Mark by the Apostle Peter.

I hope you attend each week as we watch this team in action and learn the lessons from Jesus’ life.

February 28 – “To Serve or Not To Serve”
Mark 10:32 – 45

March 6 – “What Do You Want?”
Mark 10:46 – 52

March 13 – “The Den of Robbers”
Mark 11:15-19

March 20 – “The Misdirected
Entry” Mark 11:1 – 11

March 27 – “ He has Risen”
Matthew 28:1 – 11

I also want to encourage you to join us in our evangelism emphasis this year. The joy of helping others get to know Jesus cannot be measured. So I’m challenging us to invite someone to church this Easter. What if 300 people crowded our church to hear about the Resurrection and perhaps some of them accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior for the first time?

If we all invite someone who doesn’t attend church some of them will come. It’s probably the one of two Sundays when people are most open to attend a worship service. We are beginning to pray that God will grab our hearts so he can bring in the harvest. Jesus came and called together his team to fulfill his mission to seek and to save the lost. I hope you to will join his traveling team.

Pastor Craig

Article: How do we get there from here?

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“How do we get there from here” is a good and common question we now ask our smart phones on a regular basis when we head off on a trip or new errand. When unsure we can waste a lot of time and energy driving the wrong way and having to “recalculate” as we go.

It’s also not a bad question to ask ourselves each time we begin a new year in our ministry. In February our ministry teams start up for the year. New members are brought on and new plans are discussed . There continues to be a great deal of exciting dreams shared as we continue to “Exalt Christ, Embrace Community , and Extend Compassion”. “Getting There “is a great goal for us in the call to evangelism and making disciples as individuals and as a church. The “How” is the bigger and many times harder question that will shape the next 12 months of ministry. So we begin the annual “trip”, in faith, trusting God with all our hearts. The wonderful proverb from the book of Proverbs chapter 3 sets the course;

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart   and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him,  and he will make your paths straight.

One big foundational part of the “How” is prayer. We begin and end in the power of prayer. It becomes as important to us a breathing and from what I hear, that is really important. Through the leadership of our Prayer Ministry Team, prayer will continued to be lifted up in all areas of our ministry.

The first opportunity to lift it up prayer in a special way is the our Prayer Week held February 14– 21 there will be opportunities for your family time and at church to spend more time in prayer. I hope you will join in that week and help us begin to answer the “How” question as we seek to get “There” in our tri- county ministry for Christ called Community Covenant Church.

God Bless you ,
Pastor Craig

Article: It’s About Time!

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It’s About Time!
It’s the New Year 2016. At this time of the new year we make all sorts of time related statements and ask time related questions. “Time Flies” “Wow another year has passed.” “Where does the time go?” We even sing hymns related to time like “Another year is dawning.”

It is in this time of year when we reflect on the past year and push into the new that we need to be reminded of the call and command of Christ on our life and the opportunities to fulfill the mission of Christ.

There are key passages of scripture that encourage us to consider our life and purpose as it relates to time.

Ecclesiastes 3 makes us think in this way with the favorite passage on the events of our lives.

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Mark writes in his Gospel 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Jesus also speaks of his current time when he tells of the need for all of to get involved with telling the good news of Jesus.  35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. (John 4)

Some crops require action once the field is ready for harvest and so it is as we look at the time we have to share the gospel.

This month we are going to focus in on the importance and urgency of evangelism. Through out this year we will be looking on ways that we can let our friends, family, neighbors and the world know about Jesus.

In January I will preach on evangelism and the importance of understanding the times. I hope you will take time to read through the scriptures and consider your call to make disciples. Simply allowing the people around you to know that Jesus is your savior and Lord.

It’s About Time !

January 3rd
The Commission and Need
Acts 1:6 – 11

January 10th
The Urgency part one
Matthew 24:36 – 45

January 17th
The Urgency part two
1 Thessalonians 5:1 – 11

January 24th
The Ways and Means
John 3: 1 – 21

January 31st
The Joy
Acts 2: 42 – 47

Our theme for 2016 is also centered on evangelism. We will be stepping up our individual and church wide efforts to tell the good news of Jesus Christ. We will have opportunities for training and special events to encourage and inspire us to share our faith through words and actions.

On January 24 at 7:00pm we are having a meeting to talk about this year, contacting all our neighbors in a 10 – 15 mile radius and talking to them about their faith. We would like to make contacts in each of your neighborhoods to invite people to follow Jesus Christ and invite them to the church.

We have the privilege, like the angels on the hills outside of Bethlehem, to share the same story; “And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Let’s spread the word.

Pastor Craig

Article: Joy to the World

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This summer as I read my newsletter articles from the past I read a reflection from 2001 that reminded me of the great opportunity we have this Advent season to affect our world.

Sue and I we were sitting comfortably in the light dimmed auditorium. We always looked forward to this High School Christmas concert. Listening to good Christmas music always started the season off in a special way. The candles up front glowed expectantly, announcing that something special was about to happen and we would not be disappointed. Suddenly the music began and the choirs began moving in procession down the aisle singing,” Joy to the World, the Lord has come.” The Christmas carol was sung beautifully and each section of the choir blended perfectly.

When I closed my eyes it sounded to me much like the angels must have sounded on the hillside outside of Bethlehem 2000 years ago. It was a beautiful start, except for one problem, the words and music that sounded so beautiful to my ears was not as obvious when I opened my eyes. The words that said “Joy to the World” were sung by very sad faces. Very few choir members were smiling. If there was joy in their hearts, it wasn’t being displayed in their faces. There was a disconnect between words and actions. Then I wondered if people see the joy of Christmas in me? So begins my encouragement to you this Christmas season. Let the joy of Christmas be demonstrated in your lives and your relationships this Advent. You can be the one, even if its outside your normal personality, that puts a smile on the faces of the people around you and joy to your own heart as you think of the Christ child, God’s gift to the world.  Take it to heart to bring God’s joy to the people that you are in contact with this year.

Wondering how could you do that? Be creative, there are a 101 ideas that just might fit you.

Here’s a few ideas:
Dress up as Santa and deliver gifts.
Drop by with cookies to a family in the neighborhood that you don’t know.
Go caroling with your antler hat on (now that hunting season is over).
Shovel your neighbors snow (yes, it’s coming) with your canoe paddle.
Smile, and say “Merry Christmas” to the strangers you meet while shopping.
Tell a good Santa joke.
Tell a frustrated sales clerk that they are doing a fantastic job and thank them. Make a meal for your family, if that’s not your normal task.
Give free “Christmas Hugs.”
Buy gifts for the needy.
Bake Christmas cookies to share.
Invite your neighbors to the Children’s Christmas production.
Tell and read the Story of Jesus Birth.

Be creative and let the world know that the songs you sing tell the story of what is in your heart. Spread the Joy of Christmas, it’s contagious.

Have a Blessed Christmas,
Pastor Craig