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

Article: The Glory of God

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WOW!!!!

It’s an amazing picture from God’s creation. It’s the Whirlpool Galaxy as seen by Nasa’s Hubble telescope. In color its a beautiful picture. It was first discovered on October 13, 1773 by Charles Messier. It’s about 23 million light years from the Milky Way Galaxy (our galaxy). A light year is 5,878,499,810,000 miles. Now multiply that by 23 million light years. Let’s just say that it’s a number bigger than my mind can handle. That’s a small part of the Universe that God created.

This fall in our community life groups we have been watching the “Passion Series” by Louie Giglio on the glory and majesty of God. As we have watched and listened we have been again overwhelmed by the immensity of the universe that God created. The amazing truth of the complexity and size causes us to wonder again, how could the God of the Universe actually love us so much even though we are so teeny tiny. But he created us and put us on this earth to glorify his name.

The scripture that tells the story best is in Psalm 19;
“1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech;  night after night they reveal knowledge. 3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 4 Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. 5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.”

When all creation displays its full purpose it declares the glory of God.

God in all of this splendor has placed us on this earth with all of our complexity to bring glory to his name. There may be times in your life that you feel very small and insignificant. The truth is we are small and insignificant, but we worship and are loved by an incredibly big God. We are not in charge and are not the center of the universe. God in his glory has given you significance, he has given you purpose. Psalm 139 continues the great creation love story.

“13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

God created us to reflect his glory and if we can understand that purpose we will fill our days with meaning. This week, in the ordinary and in the exceptional we can give glory to God.

We can ask the question of ourselves, “What can I do in this situation to give Glory to God?” It’s a life changing question because in life’s trials, when we draw into ourselves, it turns us outward and upward again to the purpose that God has created us for.

So grab your warm coat and go lay down in the grass on a moonless night and look up to the skies and find the Big Dipper. Then grab a telescope (even binoculars can help you see it on a very clear night) and look for the Whirlpool galaxy. The Whirlpool Galaxy is the showpiece of a rich area under the “handle” of the Big Dipper.   Both can be seen in the same field of view just 3º southwest of Alkaid, the star at the tip of the Dipper’s handle.

As you look, be wowed by the incredible immensity of God’s creation. As you quietly stare at the heavens, remember that the God who created you to bring glory to Him loves you more than you can ever imagine.

~ Pastor Craig