Monday, March 28, 2011

Thirsty Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dear People,

There are time when God opens the heavens and sends us a blessing. This happened to me today. Let me share it with you:
As some of you know, our conference superintendent, Jerome Nelson had a kidney removed a little over a year ago due to cancer. Everything went well and the doctors gave him a clean bill of health. However, this past year his other kidney wasn't functioning as it should and he was looking at the possibility of dialysis if his kidney didn't respond. This is something he didn't want to go through and he was praying for a miracle - that is, God would heal his kidney or something else would happen. His only alternative was a kidney transplant. We as a conference ministerium were informed of this matter at the Midwinter Conf. in late January, and the ministerium prayed for him, laying hands on him. 

Well, approx. a week after the midwinter conference, in a surprise move, Jerome had a kidney transplant. The doctors found a suitable donor and they proceeded with the surgery. Everything went well for Jerome and he is progressing well. However, what people didn't know was that it was Debbie Griffith that was Jerome's donor. Debbie is the Central Conference director of mission and outreach. Talk about a selfless act and having a servant's heart.

When we spoke today, she said, "I just knew I had to do it. It's something that Jesus would do and calls us to do." WOW! Isn't that great stuff!!! What an inspiration.

However, while she is recovering very well, her work load has piled up especially with the Central Conference Annual Meeting coming up at the end of April. (We know what that's like!). So to give her more time to rest, re-cooperate, and get her feet back on the ground, we are postponing our leadership/teacher training seminar to Sat. April 9th. The time will be: 8:30-9:00 a.m. - coffee, tea, refreshments, etc. 9:00-10:30 - DISC survey. (This is a great thing to go through); 10:30-12:30 - Teacher Training. So if you're a teacher, Small group leader, or desire to become on in the future, I ask you to set the date on your calendar and come out. I truly believe you will be blessed and inspired.

So, how's the "Similac to Outback" reading going? I know it's easy to start strong but get bogged down as time goes on. If you have floundered, don't worry. Just continue where we are and read on! For the next two Sunday's we are going to go through Jeremiah. Here’s the deal with Jeremiah – it is a tough book to tackle because it is a bunch of history, biography, prophecy and poetry that follows no chronological order or any sort of intuitive organizational structure. Then there are all these weird action sermons, like Jeremiah making pottery and then destroying pottery and then burying loincloths and wearing yokes and other interesting stuff. It’s 52 chapters covering about 40 years and we can’t really tell what’s going on when and where and how, but there is one undeniable message. God wants our hearts so desperately that He will go to ridiculous extremes to win them. He wants our hearts because that is what He is about. So what we see going on in the Book of Jeremiah is all this stuff that revolves around our heart and God’s purpose for us. If you haven't read Jeremiah, try it - and see God's love for you!!!

This week as we pray, continue to lift up the Tsunami victims in Japan. There was also another 6.8 earthquake today in NE Myanmar. Pray for the people in that region. Also remember to praise God for great things He is doing. The Nicaragua people gave a great report last week. Tim and Ann Carlson, along with Gayle Ewen are back from Ecuador. We are planning to hear what happened there this Sunday. It's also Lent - a time to reflect and ponder on our life and relationship with God.

Have a blessed day!!!

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lent 2011

The word “remember” is an important word in life. It is important to remember our ancestral roots, the seasons of life, as well as remember our spiritual journey with God. Throughout the Scriptures, we are reminded of the acts of God and especially the life of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

At the heart of our spiritual journey is our participation in the life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. We proclaim what John wrote in Ch. 1:14, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus was born into human history in the fullness of God’s time for our salvation. In the Gospels we read that Jesus lived, taught, suffered and was put to death. However that was not the end of the story. Paul says in Eph. 1:20,22-23, that God “…raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms …and God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything in the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fill everything in every way.” Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, people can be delivered from sin and death, and by the Holy Spirit be born into new life with God. This is Good News! This is heart of our worship and the life of the follower of Jesus.

One way to do this is by observing the church calendar and in particular the Season of Lent.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of this season. It is a day set aside that emphasizes a duality in life: (1) We are reminded of our own mortality and (2) We are sinners in need of forgive-ness. The ashes are a reminder that we came from dust and one day we will return to dust (Gen. 3:19), and were used by those who mourned or repented of their sins. Job 42:6 says, “There-fore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” (NASB)

Lent is 46 days in length and is based on a lunar cycle. Resurrection Sunday is the first Sun-day after the full moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox. Therefore Resurrection Sunday cannot be earlier than March 22nd or later than April 25th. During this season, follow-ers of Jesus are asked to pray, fast, and repent. Some people give up something they eat or drink to observe this season. One of the biblical models for this practice is found in the Gospels (Mt. 4, Mk. 1, and Lk. 4) where the Holy Spirit led Jesus after His baptism and He fasted for 40 days and nights. Although Lent is 46 days, the 6 Sundays in Lent are excluded as a day to fast because Sunday is noted as a “resurrection day”, a day of celebra-tion, when Jesus rose from the grave. People sometimes forget that the last day of the week (and the Sabbath) is Saturday, not Sunday. When Jesus rose from the grave, the Apostolic Fathers moved the celebration of worship from Saturday to Sunday.

The Covenant Hymnal and The Covenant Book of Worship describe the Lenten Season as the time when, “the church proclaims, remembers, and responds in gratitude and faith to Christ’s atoning death.” Lent can be a humbling yet enriching and growing time in one’s spiritual journey with God. It is a time when we can get our lives re-centered, our priorities straight and as David prayed in Psalm 51:10 to have God, “create in us a pure heart and renew steadfast spirit within us.

This Lenten Season create a new pace in your life. Cut the busyness that holds you back from knowing God better and take the time to renew your spirit and your time with Him. The result is that you will be richly blessed and your time with Him – priceless!

Walking with You,
Pastor Tom