Dear Church Family,
I want to personally invite you to next Sunday’s joint worship service, August 20 at 10:00am. We are calling it Jubilee Sunday for lots of reasons, but the main one is because it is a celebration of our children and youth.
In April of 2022, our Youth Ministry Program began a project called “Reboot”. It was a project not only for the youth to participate in, but they were also joined by parents and six nonparent adults. In this five-month project, the adults shared stories and the youth shared wishes and needs. From the project one of the things learned was, the youth wanted to feel needed and included. They wanted to be a part of the “church”.
Next Sunday, you are going to have the opportunity to see and hear our children and youth be a part of the church. Lisa Meadows will be sharing the sermon message that she put together on her own. She has worked hard on this message on 1 Timothy 4:12 and put much thought into what the scripture has to say. Jordan Nation will be leading the music of our service with worship songs they sing while attending their worship services at Camp Tanako. The other youth and children will be greeting you before the service, taking up the offering, reading the scripture, and leading us in prayer.
I’m hoping you will be able to attend and show your support and love to these children and youth. Let them see you believe in them and want them to be included and needed. Because not only are they our future, but they are also a very important part of our present church.
Thank you in advance,
“Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”—Revelation 2:29
I have to confess, when I found out that we were beginning a series on the Book of Revelation, I rolled my eyes. Of the sixty-six books that make up our Bible, Revelation is probably the one that most revs up others, and wearies me. I’ve seen the cable shows where the “End Times’ Scholars” break down the news of the day through the lens of the Revelation. There are over 5,000,000 videos online that attempt to explain, intuit, or otherwise decode the book. I’m guessing here, but would estimate that’s roughly nine-and-a-half-years of video content (and growing every hour). For many of the “infant” believers this dense and confusing letter from an exiled prophet writing in First Century Greek can overshadow the entire rest of the Bible.
Signs and portents aside, I think I can cut through all the noise and reveal the real “secret” of Revelation. At the other end of the Bible, in the Genesis, the Lord calls out to Abram from Ur and tells him, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you…” This is only eleven chapters after God created the whole of the universe and created an Eden in which he placed mankind with the express purpose of spending time with them. From creation to the flood to Abram to Abraham, we learn that God is steadfast and true. That He is continuously seeking us out—individually, personally—because He wants to be our God.
From the fifty-second verse of the Bible onward we see how mankind is continuously overcomplicating this very simple relationship. God is God; we are not. He loves us and wants us to feel that love so clearly that we can set aside our petty foolishness and let Him be our God. Again, and again, He offers us pathways to Him: from leaders to judges to prophets and kings culminating with a Messiah and an indwelling Spirit (God showing us His triune nature).
The Book of Revelation is just the last word on the foundational truth. The secret of Revelation is that there is no secret. He has been calling out to us since Creation and He will continue to until He makes all things new again. It’s not up to us to decode the stars and the horns and the other parts of what John saw. We need to focus instead on the God of all creation and join in John’s prayer of, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen” (Revelation 22:21)
Have you ever known anyone who was picky, needy, and didn’t focus on the task in front of them? Well, I know of some people like that as well. I want to talk about a man named Giovanni who was born in 1181. His Father, Pietro, baptized him but did not want him to become a man of God. He wanted a son who was a businessman. A son who would reflect his love of France. Giovanni was in fact renamed because his Father loved France so much. He was renamed, Francesco, which means Frenchman.
Francesco was a spoiled child because his Father was wealthy. He was loved by everyone but was picky, needy, and didn’t focus. He didn’t do well in school because he dreamed about things. As he got older he began to lead a crowd of same aged youth. He would spend his nights partying. Even though he partied and was a dreamer, he was everything his Father wanted him to be.
Francesco, or as he was called Francis, wanted more than to be good at business to become wealthy. He wanted to be a knight! He got a chance when his town went to battle. Everyone was killed except those who were wealthy enough to be used for ransom. Francis was imprisoned. He remained happy while in captivity. After a year, he was ransomed. He went right back to partying. Not in the too distant future he went to be a knight in the Fourth Crusade. Just one day after he left he had a dream in which God told him he had been going about life the wrong way and that he needed to turn around and go home.
When he arrived home, everyone laughed at him. His Father was furious he had spent all this money on a suit of armor just for Francis to come home. Francis began talking to God. He spent more and more time in prayer. He continued to run a business while answering God’s call to return home. One day Francis was riding in the country and came to a leper. Francis went to the leper and kissed his hand. The leper returned the kiss. Francis had never been happier than that moment. He looked at this as a test from God.
While praying at an ancient church one day, God spoke to Francis and told him to repair His church. He thought God meant the little c, church. It was an old church and was falling apart. He began to take money and goods from his Father’s store. His Father was furious and drug Francis to the Bishop and demanded that the money be returned. Not only did Francis give his Father the money back but also all of his clothes. He went to the church and begged for stones to rebuild the church. But this was not the church that God was speaking of, God wanted the big C Church repaired. Francis began to preach. He peached about God and being obedient to God and the Church. One day Francis opened the Bible in three places. The first place was a command to the rich man to sell all his goods and give them to the poor, the next was when the apostles were told to take nothing on their journey, and finally to take up the cross daily. He took these literally.
Part of God’s brotherhood that Francis was a part of was to take care of ALL of God’s creation. Francis thought of the sparrow just as much his brother as a pope. He was a man of action. Because of his actions of living those commands from God that he read in the Bible we now know this man as St. Francis of Assisi. He came from wealth to discover that wealth was not what God had intended for man but for us to use our wealth and talents to take care of God’s creation. This included the poor, nature, and animals. We celebrate what St. Francis taught us from his time with God on October 4th. Because of his love of nature and animals we have a celebration of Blessing the Animals on October 8th, at 10:00am, here in our Church parking lot. This year as you pass people and animals, think of God’s command to take care of all of His creation.
Christian Education Coordinator
I have been preparing to teach a new Lay Servant course which is based upon the book, Soul Reset, by Junius B. Dotson. Reverend Dotson was like a man on fire, leading a fast-growing congregation, speaking on syndicated radio shows, and providing for his flock 24/7.
While performing a funeral, Rev. Dotson passed out. In his words, “one moment he was on the mountaintop and the next he was in the valley.” After being transported to the hospital by ambulance and having multitudes of tests run, the diagnoses was “extreme fatigue”. Not heeding his doctor’s advice, Rev. Dotson resumed his breakneck schedule.
The result was depression, despair, burnout, and shame. He tells his story now because there are so many people suffering in silence. He states that he felt “vulnerability and authenticity were signs of weakness and prevent you from sustaining your place on the mountaintop”.
Throughout his book Dotson stresses the 23rd Psalm. He does so because, although it was written at a time when David lived in a world of green pastures and still waters, today we live in a vibrant, pulsating, and fast paced world. And yet, if ever there was a time when we needed to rediscover our personal needs, it is now.
Many experience loneliness, emptiness, personal needs, and depression. We often allow the break neck pace of today consume and eventually rule our lives. We are driven by numbers, schedules and finances and we forget the “why we do what we do”. Dotson stresses that our discipleship is a lifelong journey that requires a steady connectedness to Jesus.
Since our church has been experiencing Testimony HQ, I feel we have created an air of openness, authenticity, and transparency by discussing stories of personal struggles. Dotson states that “people need a place to be vulnerable and authentic”. By letting others know they aren’t alone you can create a safe space whereby a healthy congregation creates healthy people.
How can we restore our connectedness and ensure that we and others restore our soul? It can be as simple as sharing our story with one another. By letting others know our struggles and weak times. How did you, or I, reclaim our discipleship? Who enjoys engaging in church tasks or even life tasks without passion or energy?
John Wesley taught that we should continually check our priorities and ask ourselves “how is it with your soul?” He further taught us that being truthful with ourselves spiritually we can learn to encourage one another and point one another back to Jesus.
As I wrote earlier, we get caught up in doing so many things and going so many paces that we often lose track of what we need, a closer relationship with God and other disciples. Can your story encourage others? By sharing your story, it can create a sense of openness and authenticity and may lead others to stay connected and guide them to be a stronger Jesus-centered discipleship, restoring their soul. If you are interested in sharing your story, please let Pastor Nathan know.
Lay Servant and
Mission 5000 Coordinator