Thursday, September 7, 2017

Victory News - God Cares About Islands


Dear Friends,

In the Caribbean there’s a small island called Barbuda. It’s just north of Antigua where we have a church and a school. God be praised, Antigua was just south of Hurricane Irma’s eye. Antigua was thus largely spared the most devastating winds. However, many Antiguans have relatives on Barbuda which, sadly, didn’t fare as well as Antigua. It was nearly obliterated by Hurricane Irma yesterday. The pictures from Barbuda are devastating. The losses are just beginning to be counted at this point. Please join me in praying for the people of Barbuda and all those in the hurricane’s path.

Each morning this week after reading my Bible, I’ve checked social media to see some of the 1st hand accounts and reports of places along the hurricane’s path to help shape my prayers throughout the rest of my day. Otherwise I find it’s easy not to notice sometimes, you know what I mean? On the one hand, sometimes we might feel like we are bombarded with tragic news from all over the world. It just keeps on coming. And it’s overwhelming. We weren’t meant to process it all. We can’t. We’re not God. On the other hand, sometimes it’s awfully easy and comfortable to think, “What’s one tiny island so far away among so many larger islands and countries and continents on this planet?” But if we go to this extreme we become callused. We stop being human.

And yet God notices. He cares. Even in the midst of devastation, he still cares. And he is unlimited in his capacity to keep on caring. We have this consolation because there was Jesus once, God wrapped in our very mortal human flesh and blood, and he was alone. His island was the cross where he suffered the ravages of our world’s sin and death. Our sin and death. He did that because he cared even when we didn’t. He cared so that he could accomplish sin’s ultimate undoing that will culminate one day in the undoing of death itself when Jesus makes all things new. Sin’s devastation will be undone!

And so we know that God cares about human islands too. I’m talking about when we human beings, whether intentionally or inadvertently, become isolated or alone. When we get disconnected from what’s going on in the lives of others and others don’t have a window into ours.

The thing is God didn’t design us to be little islands, each one of us unto ourselves. He made us to be connected to each other in healthy, meaningful relationships. That’s one of the blessings of the church. Jesus calls us out of the darkness of unbelief and despair into the light of a hopeful, forgiveness based relationship with God. He also brings us into a new relationship with each other as full-fledged brothers and sisters in God’s family.

This Sunday, that’s what Pastor Bill is going to be talking about as he, as our discipleship pastor, begins to lay out a basis for a vision for us to be connected and caring for each other in small groups—where we can learn, love, and live out the victory of Jesus! If you're around I hope you can join us this Sunday at 8:30 or 10:15 for worship. Victory Kids is also in full swing right along with the start of a new school year.

“In his teaching the islands will put their hope” (A prophecy referring to Jesus, Isaiah 42:4)

Sunday Leftovers – What does it mean to follow Jesus? It won’t be easy. It won’t always be comfortable or convenient. Jesus himself declared that it will involve taking up our own cross in life. The alternative is we could end up losing our souls in exchange for the “fool’s gold” of the world. In American culture today, we often overlook or ignore what this actually means. In the process we miss a deeper understanding of Christ’s own cross and the comfort it brings. That’s why if you missed any of the messages in our 3 part summer ending series called Take Up Your Cross, check them out online in our website archives. Here’s a link. In particular if you were out of town for Labor Day weekend, catch up with my message from this past Sunday on how to keep your soul safe even as the seasons of life change.

Please Save the Date God uses ordinary people like us to bring the hope of Jesus to others when we share our faith. Wouldn’t you love to be able to do that confidently and comfortably with anybody? That’s why on Friday evening, October 13th we’ll be hosting a special weekend training event at our ministry center with that purpose. It’s called Praise and Proclaim. The next day, Saturday morning and afternoon, October 14th you’ll have an opportunity to put that training into practice. Meals will be provided. Childcare will be provided. We are praying even now that a great many of you who are our members will participate! Stay tuned for more info in the weeks ahead. Sign-up will begin on September 17th.

Bible 201 – A new “mix and match” opportunity begins this Saturday for anyone who has completed Bible 101 and is looking to continue their faith journey and/or work towards membership in our church. Classes will be on 3 consecutive Saturday mornings (9/9, 9/16, 9/23 from 9:30-noon) and 3 consecutive Wednesday evenings (9/13, 9/20, 9/27 from 6:30-8:30pm) so that you can choose to go to either the Saturday morning option or Wednesday evening option each week as suits your schedule. More time for discussion is allotted for the Saturday morning class. Please register online using this form to attend. Quick note: We moved the previously scheduled 9/6 class to the back end…9/27. Let me know if you have any questions.

Quest (Teen Group) – We are having our back to school night on Sunday 9/10 from 6-8pm at the ministry center. We’ll play some games and have some pizza with a short devotion and enjoy a fire around our new fire pit!

Jr High Confirmation Class (6th-8th grade) – Begins this Sunday evening from 6-8 pm at the ministry center. To register yet for confirmation class, please complete the registration form. Got questions? Please contact Pastor Bill.

Christian Aid and Relief – Pastor Bill said it well in the blog last week. There are lots of ways to donate. Here’s one you can trust. Christian Aid and Relief is our national church body’s arm that helps us show Christ’s live to those impacted by natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. Here’s a video made of phase help that Christian Aid and Relief provided to bring people together in the Houston area after Hurricane Harvey. To donate please visit this link.

Sharing Christ’s Victory,

Pastor Ben

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