Tag Archives: faithfulness

What do we do now?

Election day has finally arrived. We have never encountered a political campaign like the one we have endured. Decisions about who will hold what offices nationally and locally will finally be determined. Those who have been running for the highest office in the land have certainly not brought honor and dignity to the process. Their flaws have been on vitriolic display. Their fitness for the presidency has been ruthlessly questioned.

In January, one of them will be taking the oath of office. What do we do now?

I think a sound approach is to put into practice the words Paul wrote to the Romans. The apostle who would be executed by the empire believed that believers had a responsibility to live out their faith regardless of the circumstances (see Romans 13:1-7). But more importantly, he gave a blueprint for what that faith should look like.

In Romans 12, he provided a baseline: “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God for all He has done for you. Let them be living and holy sacrifices, the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (12:1,2).

He amplified his encouragement with specific actions and attitudes. It seems o me that our focus is clear. Our highest allegiance is to the One who saved us and calls us to be salt and light in this broken, dark world … and to pray persistently and work fervently so that Jesus will come again soon!

This is my church

A story in Larry Davies’ Turning Points: “Every Sunday for nearly three years Walter had a routine. Just before 10:00 a.m. he would open the doors to Epworth and prepare the church for worship. If the weather was cold, he would build a fire in the old wood stove. If it was hot, he would open all the windows and distribute the hand fans with a picture of Jesus on one side and an ad for a local funeral home on the other.

Next, Walter would open the Bible located on top of the wooden pulpit and read the selected Scripture for that week. Then it would be time for prayer. Often there were folks in the community included on Walter’s list. The latest national and world news would be mentioned. But always, Walter ended every prayer with a plea for God to remember and bless his beloved church.

Every Sunday, Walter had a routine, but what makes this story so unique is that with very few exceptions, Walter began and ended the Sunday morning worship service … alone. Alone? Why? Many years ago, Epworth church was built on land donated by a neighboring farmer, but if for any reason they stopped meeting regularly, if Walter stopped opening the church doors every Sunday, the property would revert to the original owners … Epworth church would cease to exist.”

One Sunday, a family new to the area came to the church. They were attracted to the small chapel and curious about what happened there. They decided to stay and worship.  Then they came back, inviting their neighbors. Before too long, more people attended. A minister was hired. During all that time, Walter remained faithful. The circumstances tempted him to give up, but he wouldn’t. When asked why, he responded, “This is my church.” That was it.

God is doing new things among us. This is our church. We, too, must remain faithful!

Please note the important dates before us as we seek to discern God’s direction and ask for His blessing. Next Sunday, we gather at the Table of the Lord for Communion. Following the service, our annual church conference will take place. Significant items will be presented. Be there. This is our church.

 

Run Your Race

Have you ever had one of those days?

  • The University of Utah was hosting #4 Oregon in a huge game last November. The Utes had jumped out to a 7-0 lead when wide receiver Kaelin Clay caught a pass and raced for the end zone. It looked like a 79 yard TD and a fourteen point lead early in the game. Except for one thing … on his way to pay dirt, Clay started celebrating a little too early. He dropped the ball at the one yard line. The Utah fans erupted, thinking their team had just scored against the favored Ducks. Oregon’s Joe Walker had seen the play, picked up the ball, and took it 99 yards to score a tying touchdown for his team. Whoops!
  • At the Pepsi Team Invitational earlier this month featuring runners from Oregon, Washington, and Kentucky, steeplechase runner Tanguy Pepiot had victory in sight. As he approached the finish line, he started waving to the crowd and slowed down. Charging behind him was Washington runner Meron Simon. From the video, Oregon’s Pepiot glances over as someone urges him to speed up. Too late. Simon passes him just before the line to win the race. Pepiot lost by 0.10 seconds. He collapsed on the track, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Whoops!

Finish. We’ve been told all our lives: it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. History is full of stories about people who begin well. We may start with great intentions, but the challenge is to keep the pace, finish the task. The apostle Paul wrote to a troubled church in Corinth who needed to be reminded to keep running the race: “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

The writer of Hebrews encouraged readers to “run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). Nobody can run your race for you. Every race has its challenges. You’re the only Christian at your office or on your team? Run your race. You’re fighting to maintain your sexual purity? Run your race. You’re trying to hold on to your ethics when others around you look for corners to cut? Run your race. You’re in a relationship that is rocky and difficult? Run your race. Where does it say that life is easy? Run your race.

Remember that we are not alone. In that passage in Hebrews, the writer pictured stands packed with those who are cheering us on (Hebrews 12:1). Jesus promised, “And remember this: I will be with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Paul wrote to the Philippians: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Run your race!

A Connected Community

Thank you, Bryan Franklin. Thank you, Grace Freeman. You opened your hearts as you opened the Word of God to our people. I am so grateful for your leadership in worship these past two weeks.

We begin a new worship series this Sunday with a very special occurrence – the ordination of Deacons. Matt Cushman, Kevin McDonald, and David Powell were elected to serve in this vital ministry of our church. We have the privilege of blessing these men as they accept this new role of leadership.

The sermon series is a study in Paul’s letter to the Colossian church. Only four chapters long, the letter addresses issues that confront the church of today. I encourage you to read the letter and to pray for our services these next four weeks. Being a connected community has both vertical and horizontal implications. You will hear me ask more than once: “How connected are you to Christ?” and “How connected are you to His body the church?”

To expand the meaning of those two questions is to examine how you are living out your faith in company with other believers. What kind of difference are we making for the cause of Christ in every avenue of our lives? How are we exercising good stewardship of the Gospel through our time, talent, and treasure? One possible measurement would be the checklist contained in our 60 Days of Celebration and Service booklet. How many checkmarks have you made in yours? I still have some work to do, how about you?

Here are some ways you can really help your church right now:

  • Pray for the three search teams looking for leaders for our open ministry positions – Minister of Congregational Life, Children’s Ministry leader, and Youth Ministry leader.
  • Be in your place on Sunday mornings. I have missed Wieuca these past two Sundays and am eager to join you in Bible study, worship, and fellowship this Lord’s Day. Will I see you there?
  • You have heard it before and you will hear it again. We have serious financial challenges. We are not making our budget by the tune of over $200,000. This year we have had to withdraw $65,000 from investments to pay our bills. Our expenses have not exceeded our income, but we are carefully managing our resources to keep it that way. If you are tithing, thank you. If you are giving, consider a tithe. If you are not giving, your faithfulness is sorely needed. If you can give more, you couldn’t pick a better time. Giving is worship; it is obedience; it is joy; it is sacrificial; and it strengthens our connected community. I pledge to do my part. Will you do yours?
  • With our gaps in staff leadership right now, it is imperative that we enlist more volunteers, especially in our children’s ministry. If you are willing to help, please contact Bryan Franklin (bfrankllin@wieuca.org) or Rachel Sloan (rsloan@wieuca.org) to find out where you can serve

A connected community implies that we desire to be a part of something larger than ourselves. We are a part of the greatest movement in the history of the world. We have been given a message that will transform lives and change eternal destinies. We are Wieuca!